The Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids ages 5-11 has proven as safe as expected so far, with only 100 "serious" events reported in the first 8.7 million doses, the CDC said Thursday.
The government authorized the vaccine for kids in that age group in early November, making about 28 million people eligible for the shot. Takeup has been slow so far, though, and there is a push now to get young kids vaccinated -- especially with the sharp spike of late in pediatric hospitalizations.
Against that backdrop, the CDC released a review looking at the vaccine's safety profile from Nov. 3 to Dec. 19, during which time the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received 4,249 reports. Of those, all but 100 were classified as "nonserious reports," such as vomiting, headache or rash.
Among the 100 "serious" reports, most related to fever and vomiting. There were 10 reports of seizures (three of whom had a history of seizures already), and 9 reports of hospitalization in intensive care.
During the survey period, two children died -- girls ages 5 and 6 who had other underlying conditions and were already in "fragile health" before the shots. The CDC said there was no data to link their deaths to the shots.
Separately, the agency also released data from the voluntary "v-safe" phone check-in system, based on reported complaints within one week of receiving each dose of the vaccine.
Of 42,000 children enrolled after their first dose, about 35% had some sort of "systemic reaction," most commonly fatigue or headache. For the nearly 30,000 of those same children with second-dose data, 41% had similar systemic reactions. About 11% missed at least a day of school after their second dose.
"Parents and guardians of children aged 5–11 years should be advised that local and systemic reactions are expected after vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and are more common after the second dose," the CDC said in its report.