The panel advises vaccinating five to eleven year olds with one dose of Biontech/Pfizer. Meanwhile, Biontech is testing vaccines for small children.
Berlin – Yesterday, the Standing Vaccination Committee (Stiko) updated its Covid 19 vaccination recommendation for children aged five to eleven: Girls and boys of this age without previous illnesses should be vaccinated with a reduced dose of an mRNA vaccine to protect against the corona virus receive; ideally “Comirnaty” from Biontech/Pfizer with ten micrograms. This was explained by Stiko member Martin Terhardt at a press event at the Science Media Center. He sees the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine as more suitable for this age group than Moderna’s “Spikevax” vaccine, which is also based on mRNA technology and contains a higher dose and for which there is “significantly less experience” worldwide. Nevertheless, this vaccine is also approved for the immunization of five to eleven year olds. For unvaccinated children with previous illnesses, Stiko recommends a double vaccination plus a booster.
Child vaccinations against the corona virus: basic immunity as the goal
So far, the Stiko’s recommendation stipulated that only five to eleven year olds with previous illnesses should be vaccinated against Covid-19. In addition, the vaccination was recommended for children who have frequent contact with people in their environment who are at high risk of developing a severe course and who themselves cannot be adequately protected by vaccination (e.g. because they do not produce enough antibodies or for medical reasons). can be vaccinated).
Why only one vaccine dose for healthy children? In the USA, the authorities have just recommended the booster for five to eleven year olds five months after the primary vaccination. The situation and supply is different there than in Germany, explains Terhardt. (Among other things, there are far more obese children in the United States).
The recommendation to vaccinate healthy five to eleven-year-olds once applies both to children who have not yet been infected and to those who have already had one – in this case, a gap of three months should be observed between vaccinations become, says the doctor.
Corona virus in Germany: Biontech is testing corona vaccinations for small children
The aim of the updated recommendation is to build up “as good a basic immunity as possible” in children over the summer with a view to the coming waves of infection. Stiko also hopes to prevent severe courses of Covid-19 in the future, which could also occur in children without an increased risk. However, Reinhard Berner, director of the clinic and polyclinic for paediatrics and youth medicine at the Dresden University Hospital and external expert for Stiko, emphasizes that severe courses in healthy children are “very rare”. In addition, Omikron has led to the fact that Pims disease (pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome) occurs only rarely as a result of an infection. In Darmstadt, too, there were more cases of Pims in children after corona infections.
However, nobody can “predict the course of the pandemic over the next few months,” admits Martin Terhardt. It is to be expected that new virus variants will appear or that earlier ones will return, which could then lead to a stronger wave of infections in autumn or winter, “with a possibly higher burden of disease”.
Corona vaccinations: Stiko renews recommendation for child vaccinations against the corona virus
Depending on the situation, the “basic immunity” achieved with a vaccination can then be optimized with another vaccination, “possibly also with an adapted vaccine”. From an immunological point of view, a “relatively large interval” between a first and possible second vaccination is “very sensible”. An additional advantage of a longer distance is that it can reduce the risk of heart complications, but it is much lower in children of this age than in adolescents.
Terhardt assumes that almost 100 percent of five to eleven year olds have already had an infection. If they were to get another vaccination, very high antibody levels and particularly good immunity can be expected, says Tim Niehues, chief physician at the Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at the Helios Klinikum Krefeld, who is not a member of the Stiko himself. However, he points out that this assessment is based on data generated “in vitro” (in laboratory tests).
Three doses for small children: Study provides further insights into children’s vaccinations against the corona virus
Almost at the same time as the Stiko recommendation, Biontech presented the first results of its study on vaccinating small children. The Mainz-based company provides a basic immunization scheme consisting of three injections of its vaccine in a dose of three micrograms each for children from six months to five years of age. The effectiveness in relation to symptomatic diseases is said to be 80.3 percent. When asked about this, Stiko member Terhardt said the vaccine studies had found that, particularly in the two to four year old age group, two vaccinations “were not at all sufficient” and the study was therefore changed to a three-dose vaccination schedule.
The published results are part of a study with 15,350 participants of different ages, the group of young children comprised 1,678 girls and boys. The effectiveness against Omikron was tested. According to a report by the medical portal Doccheck, the documents for the emergency approval should probably be completed within the next few days and then initially made available to the US approval authority FDA. (Pamela Dörhöfer)
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