Teenagers aged between 12 and 15 who had the Pfizer jab experienced mild to moderate side effects which cleared up quickly, a study has found.
The jab has been given to teenagers in the age bracket who are at high risk of complications from coronavirus because of certain coexisting conditions.
The authors said the findings should give reassurance to parents as reports emerged that the NHS is drawing up plans to start vaccinating all children aged between 12 and 15 from the first week schools go back.
NHS Trusts were told on Wednesday to prepare for the possible rollout of the vaccination programme to all schoolchildren in the age bracket, The Telegraph reported.
Emails seen by the paper, sent by NHS England’s regional offices, say trusts must have plans ready by 4pm on Friday.
Health officials have reportedly said the children would not need parental consent to have the jab.
The study which looked at the use of the Pfizer vaccine in 12 to 15 year olds asked the parents of 27 children who received the jab to record any side effects.
The authors of the study, which is published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, said: “Numbers were small, but these data are especially important as they are representative of the children who are most likely to benefit from vaccination, and parents and clinicians may have concerns regarding an increased risk of unexpected events.”
Out of the 27 children, three were hospital inpatients, 16 were boys and most, 21, were white.
They had various neurological conditions, including muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, plus a range of coexisting medical conditions, such as epilepsy, congenital heart defects, and immune deficiency, for which they were receiving drug treatment of various kinds.
The reported side effects were all mild to moderate, with the exception of one child who experienced severe fatigue and discomfort, combined with increased agitation. One family also reported that seizure type changed to clusters, although this had resolved a week later.
In all, there were eight “events” in six children after the first dose, all of which resolved within 72 hours: mild rash; headache; diarrhoea; presumed sore throat; neck pain; difficulty sleeping; and low blood glucose.
After the second dose, eight additional events occurred in five children: diarrhoea; vomiting; armpit swelling; and blisters around the mouth.
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Paracetamol use after the first dose was high and fever was more common than reported in studies of adults (13% vs 4% in 16-55 year olds).
But all recorded side effects cleared up within a week.
Children deemed to be at high risk of coronavirus were shielded during the pandemic due to their risk of infection and wouldn’t have been included in early vaccine safety studies, the study’s authors said.
Healthy children who contracted coronavirus generally suffered a mild illness.
However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the UK’s vaccine advisory group, advised that children aged 12 and over with severe neurological disabilities, who tend to get recurrent respiratory infections and have complex care needs, should be offered the COVID-19 jab.
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