Public Health

Pfizer vaccine effective, protects against MIS-C, says CDC

Safeway pharmacist Ashley McGee fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 booster at a booster clinic in San Rafael, California on October 01, 2021.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

A new study found that two doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine are highly effective in protecting children between 12 and 18 years of age from a serious inflammatory disease related to Covid infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a report released Friday that Pfizer’s vaccination was 91% effective in protecting adolescents from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or MIS-C.

The CDC study looked at 283 hospitalized patients ages 12 to 18 in 24 children’s hospitals in 20 states from July to December 2021, when Delta was the predominant variant. The analysis focused on the 12-18 age group as Pfizer shots weren’t available to younger children until November.

The CDC found that the effectiveness of the vaccine against MIS-C caused by the Omicron variant now prevalent in the United States could not be determined due to the timing of the study.

MIS-C is a serious illness in which various parts of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs become inflamed. According to the CDC, children usually develop MIS-C two to six weeks after an asymptomatic or mild Covid infection.

More than 6,000 children have developed MIS-C since May 2020 and 55 have died, according to CDC data. The majority of MIS-C patients are Hispanic or Black, most are boys, and half are between 5 and 13 years old. Of the known MIS-C cases, 98% tested positive for Covid, while 2% were exposed to the virus, according to the CDC.

The CDC study compared 102 hospitalized MIS-C patients with 181 patients who either tested negative for Covid or had no symptoms. The overwhelming majority of MIS-C patients, 95%, were unvaccinated. None of the five fully vaccinated MIS-C patients required life support, while 39% of the unvaccinated MIS-C patients required life support.

“This analysis provides supportive evidence that vaccinating children and adolescents provides high levels of protection against MIS-C and Covid-19, and underscores the importance of vaccinating all eligible children,” concluded the CDC in its weekly morbidity and death survey Mortality report.

Children 5 years and older can now receive the Pfizer vaccine in two doses. Teenagers 12 years and older are entitled to a Pfizer booster vaccination at least five months after the second dose.

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