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Pfizer's successful vaccine trial in children good news for slowing COVID-19 surge, Utah doctor says

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is drawn into a syringe at the South Davis Senior Activity Center in Bountiful on
Aug. 25. On Monday, Utah health officials confirmed 3,393 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, as well as 17 new deaths.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is drawn into a syringe at the South Davis Senior Activity Center in Bountiful on Aug. 25. On Monday, Utah health officials confirmed 3,393 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, as well as 17 new deaths. ( Laura Seitz, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Pfizer's news that its COVID-19 vaccine trial in children was successful prompted optimism in one Utah pediatric infectious disease physician that Utah could decrease its ongoing surge.

Dr. Andrew Pavia, infectious disease physician at University of Utah Health, noted the increasing transmission rate is largely being driven by the return to schools in person.

On Monday, Pfizer announced positive results from its vaccine trial in children ages 5-11. The company said it will seek FDA approval for emergency use authorization for that age group.

Side effects were similar in those ages 5-11 as those in other age groups, which Pavia said is optimistic. The antibody response in younger children with a lower dosage of the vaccine is equivalent to that seen in young adults, the doctor noted.

Attempting to predict when the federal government could approve the vaccine's use for younger children is "a question of crystal-ball gazing," Pavia said, but he anticipates it could happen around Halloween or the beginning of November.

Primary Children's Hospital continues to see higher admissions of children with COVID-19 compared to last year, according to Pavia, but they do not represent the majority of patients at the hospital.

While Pavia said many downplay the risk of the illness to children, he emphasized that many kids with the virus need to stay home from school while they have it — a difficulty for both parents and students.

He described the risk of the vaccine to kids as "much more small" compared to the "large" risk of COVID-19 itself.

Pavia urged those who want more information to talk to their child's pediatrician.

The Pfizer study on those ages 5-11 used the interval of three weeks between the first and second doses. But if someone can't get the second dose as soon as three weeks after, it is OK for them to receive it later. It takes about two weeks after the second dose to have full protection, which Pavia urged parents to keep in mind ahead of the holidays.

He said he hopes the state will "finally beat" the delta surge and decrease cases to a low level with more children eventually able to get vaccinated. The number of people vaccinated within a school will bring down transmission rates, according to Pavia.

New Utah data

Utah health officials confirmed 3,393 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, as well as 17 new deaths. Friday brought 1,373 cases; 1,130 were confirmed on Saturday; and 900 people tested positive on Sunday.

The Utah Department of Health removed 10 previous cases from the state's overall tally after data analysis.

School-age children accounted for 652 of the new cases — 319 cases were ages 5-10, 145 cases were ages 11-13, and 188 were ages 14-17, according to a daily update provided by the state health department.

The rolling seven-day average for new cases is now 1,456, and the percent positivity rate of those tested stands at 13.8%. The state on Monday had 577 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 — 15 fewer than were hospitalized on Friday.

Health care workers administered 16,990 vaccines since Friday's report, bringing total vaccinations given in Utah to 3,389,704.

In the last 28 days, unvaccinated residents have faced 5.6 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, seven times greater risk of being hospitalized due to the disease, and 6.6 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to the health department.

Since Feb. 1, people who are unvaccinated are at 4.7 times greater risk of dying from the coronavirus, five times greater risk of being hospitalized, and 4.4 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people.

Three deaths reported Monday occurred before September. The latest deaths include:

  • A Washington County man older than 85, who was a long-term care facility resident at the time of his death
  • A Weber County man, older than 85, long-term care facility resident
  • A Weber County man, 45-64, hospitalized
  • A Davis County man, 65-84, not hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County man, older than 85, long-term care facility resident
  • A Salt Lake County man, 25-44, hospitalized
  • A Juab County man, older than 85, not hospitalized
  • A Washington County man, 25-44, hospitalized.
  • An Iron County woman, 65-84, hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County woman, 65-84, not hospitalized
  • A Utah County man, 25-44, hospitalized
  • An Iron County man, 65-84, hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, not hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County man, 45-64, hospitalized
  • A Juab County woman, 65-84, hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County man, 25-44, not hospitalized
  • A Washington County woman, older than 85, hospitalized

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