Corona: Vaccination recommended for young children – study examines side effects

Since this week, the European Medicines Agency has recommended vaccinating small children from the age of six months against Corona. The two mRNA vaccines from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna are approved in adjusted dosages for this age group. But how high is the risk of unwanted effects of a corona vaccination for small children?

At least for the mRNA vaccine from Biontech there is now a study. A team of researchers led by pediatrician Nicole Toepfner from Dresden University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus interviewed the parents of 7,806 children. The information collected from the parents by questionnaire covered an average period of 90 days after vaccination. For comparison, information on the same categories was requested after administration of every other non-Sars-CoV-2 vaccine administered to the same children since January 15, 2022.

With which vaccinations was the corona vaccination compared?
Flu vaccination (1,355 children)
Meningococci (763 children)
Measles, mumps, rubella, tw. with chickenpox (609 children)
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, partly with polio (558 children)
Hepatitis A/B (248 Kinder)
Humanes Papillomavirus (6 Kinder)
Other vaccinations (560 children)

Local reactions such as pain at the injection site are more common with corona vaccination

Some of the children had already been vaccinated off-label before the vaccine was recommended for that age group. They had received a dose of 10 micrograms of vaccine, which is actually only recommended for children aged six and over. According to the parents, ten of the children had to be treated in a clinic after the vaccination. The doctors classified these reports as serious adverse effects. In 40 children, the symptoms that had appeared after the vaccination were still ongoing at the time of the survey; in two children, these symptoms lasted longer than three months.

The other respondents mainly showed so-called local reactions, i.e. pain at the injection site, which is often also called “vaccination arm”. Compared to other vaccinations, this pain was about 1.6 times more frequent. Muscle and joint pains were 2.5 times more common, skin reactions 2.18 times and throat, nose and throat symptoms even 6.4 times more common than with other vaccinations.

General symptoms (0.7 times) or fever (0.4 times), on the other hand, occurred much less frequently after the corona vaccination.

Data based on parental statements

The authors of the study published in the JAMA Network Open classify most of these adverse effects as mild. However, they have to limit the informative value insofar as the effects described are only based on the statements of the parents and the children were not examined themselves. In addition, only about 41 percent of those addressed actually answered the questionnaire. Therefore, a bias is possible insofar as parents who observed an adverse effect in their children might have had a greater motivation to answer the questions.