WEDNESDAY, Aug. 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The Pfizer modified COVID-19 vaccine for use in children younger than 5 years was 73 percent effective in shielding them from infection during the omicron surge this spring, company data released Tuesday show.

The specially formulated doses for America’s youngest children were approved for distribution in June, although the American Academy of Pediatrics says uptake has been low. Just 6 percent of children younger than 5 years had gotten immunized by mid-August, the group said.

At the time of approval, the only studies supporting their use in small children were based on levels of antibodies triggered by the shots. The new data show that the Pfizer vaccine does appear to protect young children well against symptomatic COVID-19.

In the new study — conducted between March and June of this year, when the BA.2 omicron variant was dominant — 13 of 794 children younger than 5 years who got the new three-dose vaccine got symptomatic COVID-19 compared with 21 cases among the 351 children who received a dummy placebo shot, Pfizer reported.

BA.5 is now the dominant variant, accounting for nearly 90 percent of all new U.S. cases. However, studies in older children and adults are showing that the COVID-19 vaccine is shielding people against severe disease — cases causing hospitalization and death — even as the virus mutates.

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