COVID-19 vaccine protection in kids dropped during omicron surge

Virus Outbreak Vaccine Kids California
Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 02, 2022

(WXYZ) — As the coronavirus surged across the U.S., many vaccinated children faced breakthrough infections.

One of the youngest age groups was found to have roughly half as much protection as expected.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study looked at real-world data for children that were treated with COVID-19 symptoms. They looked specifically at kids who were eligible to be vaccinated, so those between the ages of 5 through 17.

The data included nearly 40,000 clinic or emergency room visits and 1,700 hospitalizations. Here’s what was found:

  • The youngest group that was recently approved to get vaccinated — kids aged 5 to 11 years old — were found to be about 46% less likely to seek treatment for COVID-19 when compared to those who were not vaccinated. That’s a big drop because clinical trials found a 91% efficacy rate in this age group.
  • Of the children in this age group, only two vaccinated kids were hospitalized compared to 59 children that were not vaccinated that ended up being admitted.
  • For older kids aged 12 through 15, those who were fully vaccinated were 83% less likely to visit a clinic or emergency room. They were also 92% less likely to be hospitalized. Those numbers sound great. But they dropped about 5 months after the second dose was administered, down to 38% for clinic or emergency room visits and 73% for hospitalizations.
  • As for the oldest group — kids aged 16 and 17 — they were about 76% less likely to visit a clinic or emergency room. And they were 94% less likely to be hospitalized. Once again, those numbers dropped around the five-month mark to 46% for clinic visits and 88% for hospitalizations.

There is good news regarding boosters. The study found that teens aged 12 through 17 had most of their protection restored just one week after getting the third dose.

As for the question about kid-size doses, it’s not that the vaccines didn’t work for kids 5 to 11. It’s more likely because the virus rapidly evolved and we now have omicron, which is different from earlier variants. And so, vaccines were found to be less effective when it comes to preventing infection.

Having said that, this latest study as well as others show our vaccines are still providing really good protection when it comes to hospitalization and death. So once again, I can’t stress how important it is to get vaccinated and boosted if you’re eligible.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.