State Health leadership endorsed Pfizer’s lower-dose version of their COVID-19 vaccine this week, distributing over 50,000 doses around the state for administration. Photo courtesy Mississippi State Department of Health. Photo courtesy Paul Byers
The Mississippi State Department of Health began accepting COVID-19 vaccine reservations for children ages 5 through 11 across the state yesterday, while private clinics and pharmacies also offer the lower-dose vaccine. The dose is one-third of an adult amount at 10 micrograms, and is the same formulation as the adult version of Pfizer’s vaccine.
A Nov. 2 decision from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared the way for MSDH to begin administration.
“We are pleased this has finally been approved,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a Nov. 5 statement. “We recommend that all children 5 and older in Mississippi be vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Byers and other state health leadership explained the recommendation in a Nov. 8 Mississippi State Medical Association press briefing.
“The risk of symptomatic infection in the kids is low,” Byers said. “The risk of having severe complications is low. But they do occur, infections do occur in children.”
Just under 89,000 kids in Mississippi have contracted COVID-19 so far, while the Mississippi State Department of Health reports nine fatalities among children since January of 2020.
Byers noted an increase in infections, hospitalizations and deaths in children aged 5-17 during the delta wave, as well as increased cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome, evidencing the need for a children’s version of the vaccine.
“Certainly we saw more deaths during delta in kids, we've seen increases in multi-system inflammatory syndrome in kids with the delta surge,” Byers said. “Severe illness does occur.”
Byers spoke about case transmission through children and how the vaccine can reduce the threat of spreading the virus.
“Often kids, even if asymptomatic, can be the source of transmission for those other folks who are more vulnerable,” Byers said. Children can bring COVID-19 home and infect more vulnerable family members, such as the elderly.
MSDH’s latest collection of school self-reports shows 57 new infections among staff, with 314 new infections among students. The latest report also explained that 1,450 schoolchildren and 59 staff were forced to quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus.
School breakouts are on a decline, and Byers mentioned the children’s vaccine as a way to reduce disruption toward young Mississippians’ daily lives.
“As we head into this holiday season a way to keep our kids in school, a way to keep them participating, a way to avoid a lot of those disruptions is the vaccination,” Byers said.
Former MSMA President Dr. Mark Horne echoed Byers’ sentiment, focusing on risk management as a reason for kids to get vaccinated.
“It's about lowering risk and just being as safe as you can,” Horne said. “Since it's safer to take the vaccine than it is not to take the vaccine, why not just do the safest thing?”
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].