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Effectiveness of the BNT162b2 vaccine among children 5-11 and 12-17 years in New York after the Emergence of the Omicron Variant

By Vajeera Dorabawila, Dina Hoefer, Ursula E Bauer, Mary Bassett, Emily Lutterloh, Eli Rosenberg

Posted 28 Feb 2022
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.02.25.22271454

Importance: There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of the BNT162b2 vaccine for children, particularly those 5-11 years and after the Omicron variant's emergence. Objective: To estimate BNT162b2 vaccine effectiveness against COVID cases and hospitalizations among children 5-11 years and 12-17 years during December, 2021 and January, 2022. Design: Analyses of cohorts constructed from linked statewide immunization, laboratory testing, and hospitalization databases. Setting/Participants: New York State children 5-17 years. Main outcomes/measures: New laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Comparisons were made using the incidence rate ratio (IRR), comparing outcomes by vaccination status, and estimated vaccine effectiveness (VE: 1-[1/IRR]). Results: From December 13, 2021 to January 30, 2022, among 852,384 fully-vaccinated children 12-17 years and 365,502 children 5-11 years, VE against cases declined from 66% (95% CI: 64%, 67%) to 51% (95% CI: 48%, 54%) for those 12-17 years and from 68% (95% CI: 63%, 72%) to 12% (95% CI: 6%, 16%) for those 5-11 years. During the January 24-30 week, VE for children 11 years was 11% (95%CI -3%, 23%) and for those age 12 was 67% (95% CI: 62%, 71%). VE against hospitalization declined changed from 85% (95% CI: 63%, 95%) to 73% (95% CI: 53%, 87%) for children 12-17 years, and from 100% (95% CI: -189%, 100%) to 48% (95% CI: -12%, 75%) for those 5-11 years. Among children newly fully-vaccinated December 13, 2021 to January 2, 2022, VE against cases within two weeks of full vaccination for children 12-17 years was 76% (95% CI: 71%, 81%) and by 28-34 days it was 56% (95% CI: 43%, 63%). For children 5-11, VE against cases declined from 65% (95% CI: 62%, 68%) to 12% (95% CI: 8%, 16%) by 28-34 days. Conclusions and Relevance: In the Omicron era, the effectiveness against cases of BNT162b2 declined rapidly for children, particularly those 5-11 years. However, vaccination of children 5-11 years was protective against severe disease and is recommended. These results highlight the potential need to study alternative vaccine dosing for children and the continued importance layered protections, including mask wearing, to prevent infection and transmission.

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