CDC study finds that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine offers high-quality protection against hospitalization among adolescents

In the spring of this year in the year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 vaccinations for children ranging from 12 to 15 years old as well as people over the age of 16. Although adolescents are less susceptible to severe COVID-19 illness, new variants like Delta have led to an increase in infections in this age group.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), has released new research which suggests that vaccines are extremely safeguarded against severe acute respir coronavirus 2(SARS-CoV-2). Two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine resulted in a 93% reduction in hospitalization. The findings add to an earlier clinical trial which found that vaccinated children had 100 100% protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

When schools resume in-person classes vaccination remains the most effective way to protect yourself against SARS-CoV-2, a severe infection.

The study “Effectiveness of Pfizer BioNTech mRNA Vaccination Against COVID-19 Hospitalization in People Aged 12-18 Years — United States, June-September 2021” was recently published in the CDC’s journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Study: Effectiveness of Pfizer BioNTech mRNA Vaccination against COVID-19 Hospitalization Among Persons Aged 12-18 Years United States, June-September 2021. Image Credit: 9nong / Shutterstock

How they did it

The study involved 464 kids between the ages of 12 and 18 years old , who were admitted to 19 pediatric hospitals between June 1 and September 30 2021. Around 179 patients showed COVID-19 symptoms but did not pass the COVID-19 test. The remaining 285 were classified as controls in that they did not show COVID-19 symptoms and had no test confirming SARS-CoV-2.

The parent or guardian gave details about the adolescent’s COVID-19 vaccination history, the type and location of vaccination sites, as well as the vaccination card to verify the status of vaccination.

Patients were classified according to their vaccination status. The analysis did not include people who had been partially vaccined.

The researchers didn’t study the effectiveness of vaccines from the Pfizer BioNTech two-dose shot as Moderna and Johnson vaccines were not approved for this age group at the time.

Patient characteristics

The median age of patients was 15 years old. Around 72% of patients had at least one underlying medical condition, including obesity. 68% of adolescents go to school in person.

Patients admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms were more likely to live in areas at high risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and also have more diabetes diagnoses. Patients admitted with COVID-19-related symptoms had more neurologic and neuromuscular comorbidities than those who did not.

The differences in vaccinations in hospitalized adolescents patients with COVID-19

Of the 179 adolescents admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms 3percent were vaccinated, and 97% were not. Approximately 43% of these patients were admitted to the ICU and 16% required life support, which included vasoactive infusions and ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Two of 29 adolescents suffering from severe COVID-19 disease died.

All patients admitted to the ICU and required life support or died of COVID-19 were not vaccinated.

Unvaccinated adolescent patients who were discharged from the hospital , spent five days in the hospital, compared to 3% for vaccinated patients.

Researchers calculated an efficiency rate of 93% for vaccines to prevent hospitalizations among 12- to 18-year-old adolescents. The 93% effectiveness of the vaccine was calculated at a time that Delta was the dominant variant in the United States.

Limitations of study

When evaluating the results, there are several limitations to the study. The 93% effectiveness of vaccine observed in the study is based on the Delta variant as it was in widespread circulation at the time. It is possible that vaccine effectiveness may change with other variants, like Alpha or Beta.

The study didn’t have a large enough sample to assess the effectiveness of vaccines against serious COVID-19 infections. Additionally, because parents or guardians self-reported the data, vaccination status could have been incorrect or there could have been errors in remembering specific dates for the day that the adolescent was ill.

The South is home to high levels of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and 61% of participants in the study were from the region. Therefore, the sample may not be representative of teens in states with low SARS-CoV-2 prevalence.

At the time of the study, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was the only one approved for adolescents 12-15 years old. Moderna and the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine may have different levels of effectiveness. In addition the recent approval means the researchers were not able to determine the duration of protection provided by vaccines in adolescents.

Journal reference:

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Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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