Vaccination of children under 12 in Cayman will depend on UK regulator



The Cayman Islands government is seeking COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11, but a local vaccination program for children will first require UK regulatory approval of a vaccine for children.

Last week, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee voted to recommend Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration United has authorized its use for the age group.

The United States plans to immediately roll out a vaccination program for children 5 years of age and older, and in some places children are already receiving the vaccine.

Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee confirmed in a statement Friday that the Cayman Islands government is committed to ensuring the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11.

However, Cayman’s vaccination program is overseen by the UK government, which donated and transported the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines for use in the islands, he said.

“As such, the use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in this age group must first be approved by the Medicines Healthcare products and Regulatory Agency in the United Kingdom.”

He added: “Following this, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office will have to send the special pediatric formulations to our islands. “

Children aged 5 to 11 will receive a separate vaccine formulation from the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. It contains one third of the dose given to adolescents and adults, and children will receive the vaccine with a smaller needle.

The government is working with the governor’s office to secure doses for children. Complete vaccination of children will require two doses three weeks apart.

Clinical trials of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine have found it to be nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children in this age group. Side effects of the vaccine in the trials were milder than in the older groups and most often included fever, headache, chills, and arm pain.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the CDC advisory committee’s decision.

“The AAP recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents aged 5 years and over who have no contraindications to the use of a vaccine authorized for their age,” he said in a press release.

Immunizing children would protect their health and allow them to fully engage in all activities that are important to their health and development, the organization said.

While children are just as likely as adolescents and adults to be infected with COVID-19 and infect others, they are less likely to become seriously ill. But hospital admissions in the United States and elsewhere have seen an increasing number of children, mainly because they are not vaccinated.

Advocates say immunizing children would help reduce community transmission of COVID-19, and ultimately give children more freedom and reduce disruption to classroom learning in schools.

Cayman teens aged 12 to 17 can receive the COVID vaccine since June, after the UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) estimated the benefits of the age group’s vaccination exceeded risks on an individual basis.

In the UK, it took until September for teens aged 12 and over to receive the jab.

The Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI), which advises the UK government on the implementation of the vaccine rollout, noted in its opinion of 2 September 2021 that the benefits of vaccination for adolescent health otherwise in good health on an individual basis were low, in large part because they are less likely to become seriously ill.

But the committee said it did not take into account the broader societal impact or educational benefits for adolescents in that age group, which may also be relevant.

Unlike the United States, Canada or Israel, the British government has approved a vaccination schedule for 12 to 15 year olds involving a single dose, rather than the typical full cycle of two doses.

This was to balance the concern over some reported side effects, such as temporary myocarditis or irregular heartbeat, especially in adolescents, against the health and education benefits for the group. ‘age.

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