The children are doing well: fewer side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine

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Early this year, Flinders University published a paper looking at the risks associated with restraint in parents and pregnant women.

Basically, these were people who were concerned about the safety of vaccines being given to their children — those who were walking around on two frisky legs or who were still in the womb — and they were vulnerable to misinformation and possible conspiracy theories.

(You can read the paper here.)

Some of these people will be encouraged by a new report on the magnitude of side effects in children ages five to 15 who received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

An investigation into security oversight

Australian children aged five to 15 have reported fewer side effects in the days following mRNA vaccination against COVID-19 than in clinical trials and published safety data.

In other words, in real-life conditions, children show good tolerance to the mRNA vaccines, a platform that emerged in response to the pandemic — and because of its novelty, it has raised concerns among parents who are hesitant to get vaccines.

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Researchers at the University of Sydney Children’s Hospital and others analyzed 392,268 survey responses — information gathered through AusVaxSafety’s national active vaccine safety surveillance system.

The study covered “encounters” of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines between July 2021 and May 2022.

The findings

In children aged 5 to 11 years:

  • 25 percent of respondents reported at least one adverse reaction in the first three days after the Pfizer 10 microgram dose
  • And 28 percent after receiving Pfizer 10 microgram dose 2.

In children aged 12 to 15 years:

  • 32 percent of respondents reported at least one adverse reaction in the first three days after the Pfizer 30 microgram dose
  • 49 percent after Pfizer 30 microgram dose 2
  • 34 percent after dose of Moderna 100 micrograms 1
  • And 64 percent after Moderna 100 micrograms dose 2.
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The most common side effects in both age groups were pain, itching, redness and swelling (at the injection site), as well as fatigue, headache and muscle/joint pain.

The researchers say these vaccine side effects were “generally mild and short-lived, with most disappearing within a day or less.”

They say the number of side effects reported was “comparable between gender and Indigenous status, but increased with increasing age and was higher for children with parent-reported chronic medical conditions.”

Overall, medical attendance rates (doctor visits after vaccination) remained low (0.3 percent) and “the overall impact on routine activities was also low (7 percent)”.

What the researchers say

Lead author Associate Professor Nick Wood, associate director of Clinical Services and Vaccine Safety at the National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) said: “The Australian data analyzed to date is extremely reassuring and the number of adverse events in children aged five to 11 is lower than what has been observed internationally for this age group.”

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He said that “importantly, fever, which is a concern in children under six because of the risk of febrile seizures, was low in the youngest age group and comparable to the fever seen after annual flu vaccination”.

He said no self-reported cases of myocarditis or pericarditis were identified in this study and “these data provide parents with confidence in the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia”.

Surveillance of the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in children is ongoing.

The new study with these findings has not yet been peer-reviewed. It has appeared as a pre-print.