‘Data especially important as they represent children most likely to benefit’ despite small sample size
The side effects of receiving a Pfizer-manufactured coronavirus vaccine are mild to moderate in children aged between 12 and 15 and considered vulnerable to the disease, according to new research.
The small study examined 27 children whose parents had recorded post-inoculation side effects.
Adverse reactions were either mild or moderate for all except one who suffered “severe fatigue and severe discomfort combined with increased agitation”.
Currently children aged between 12 and 15 who are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19, or live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus, are eligible for a jab.
There have been calls extend the rollout to all healthy children in that age range, as schools prepare to reopen classrooms in a few days’ time.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has not given a recommendation to widen the rollout to this age group, but the NHS in England is reportedly making preparations to enable it to proceed if there is a decision to do so.
Reports overnight said NHS trusts had been told to prepare plans for inoculating all over-12s in their area before 1 November. The Department of Health said no decision had been taken on expanding the vaccine campaign, but that it was planning for a “range of scenarios”.
All of the participants in the study were children with severe neurodisabilities who tended to contract recurrent respiratory infections, and spend time in residential care.
Researchers said one family reported a change in seizure type but that this had been resolved a week after the vaccine was administered.
Effects in six of the children after their first dose included diarrhoea, presumed sore throat, a mild rash, headache, neck pain, difficulty sleeping and low blood sugars.
However, all of these receded within three days, according to the research, which is due to be published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Five of the children experienced diarrhoea, vomiting, armpit swelling and blisters around the mouth after the second dose.
The researchers said fever was more common than in adult studies, with 13 per cent of the children having a temperature greater than 38C compared with 4 per cent in people aged between 16 and 55.
Other recorded adverse events all resolved within a week, the paper by scientists from the department of paediatric immunology and infectious diseases at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and the University of Bristol noted.
They said: “Numbers were small but these data are especially important as they are representative of the children who are most likely to benefit from vaccination and parents and clinicians may have concerns regarding an increased risk of unexpected events.”
Additional reporting by Press Association