IS SAFE

Kenya to open Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to school children

Around 4,650 children participated in the trial.

In Summary

• Taskforce in collaboration with other technical working committees at the Health Ministry will be able to make a decision on the same in the coming weeks

•Other vaccine manufacturers are also studying their vaccines in younger age groups.

Kenya receives 765,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility on November 9, 2021
Kenya receives 765,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility on November 9, 2021

Vaccination of school children could soon begin after the health ministry said it is reviewing safety data on the vaccine among people aged between 16 and 18 years.

The vaccines deployment taskforce chair Dr Willis Akhwale on Tuesday said the taskforce in collaboration with other technical working committees at the Health Ministry will be able to make a decision on the same in the coming weeks.

“We are looking at the data in the use of Pfizer in persons below 18 years,  that is 16 years to 18 years and in the coming week we will make a decision most likely to start vaccinating them since we have adequate doses of Pfizer,” Akhwale said.

“Last week we received one million and we will be receiving almost another 3.7 million doses of Pfizer before the end of the year,” he added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages five and older get a Covid-19 vaccine to help protect against the disease.

Even though children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19 compared with adults, vaccinating them helps protect the whole family and slow the spread of the virus in the community.

Data from Pfizer vaccine studies show the vaccine is safe and effective for people as young as 5 years old.

Other vaccine manufacturers are also studying their vaccines in younger age groups but have not yet received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Again the Kenya National Technical Committee on immunisation is going on with the review of data on various vaccines on pregnancy and we should make a determination before the end of this month on specific policy guidance.”

The United States is already vaccinating children aged five  to 11 years with the Pfizer vaccine with others such as the UK, Denmark and France vaccinating those aged at least 12 years.

In June, Germany's scientific advisers recommended the vaccine should only be offered to children aged 12 to 15 years with underlying health conditions.

But in August, after the Delta variant started spreading more widely, the rollout was extended to all those over 12 years old.

The FDA advisory panel voted in favour of approval to introduce the vaccine among people aged above five years on October 26, on the basis of clinical-trial data showing that the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine is about 91per cent effective at preventing symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in 5- to 11-year olds.

Kenya receives 765,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility on November 9, 2021
Kenya receives 765,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility on November 9, 2021

Around 4,650 children participated in the trial, nearly two-thirds received vaccine doses that were one-third that of an adult jab (the others received a placebo).

The kids received two doses, three weeks apart.

“We may be having reduced cases of Covid, fewer admissions , it is a good thing in our fight however this disease occurs in waves and the potential of the next wave becoming more severe still stands. The only weapon we have to reduce the number of cases during the next wave is to get people vaccinated,” Akhwale noted.

The country seeks to vaccinate at least 10 million people by December and at least 26 million by the end of 2022.

To date close to 10 million vaccines have been received in the country after an additional 765,6000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the country on Tuesday evening.