CARPHA Urges Regional Health Authorities Not To Give Children Under 12 Adult Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccines

(CMC) — The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has cautioned Ministries of Health across the region against administering any dosage of the adult Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children aged five to 11 years, as they continue to roll out their vaccination campaigns.

Programme Manager at CARPHA Caribbean Regulatory System (CARPHA-CRS) Dr Rian Extavour, in a statement on Wednesday, said that although the regional health agency recognises that uptake of the vaccine is critical to achieving maximum protection from severe disease and death, there is an absence of information on testing of the adult formulation in children five to 11 years.

Also of great concern, Dr Extavour said, is the increased possibility of errors in administration with drawing up smaller volumes than 0.3ml which is the adult dose, from the adult formulation.

“Errors in the administration of fractionated doses can make vaccination of children aged five to 11 years with adult vaccines a risky practice,” CARPHA Executive Director, Dr Joy St John said.

“We are awaiting the WHO [World Health Organization] Emergency Use Listing before we recommend use of the US FDA-approved vaccine developed specifically for children five to 11 years of age.”

At this time, CARPHA-CRS has not yet recommended the paediatric formulation of the Pfizer vaccine due to the absence of confirmation of the new formulation by the WHO prequalification team under the relevant Emergency Use Listing (EUL).

“Unless otherwise specified, member states should continue adherence to recommendations for approved vaccines. This will help to ensure favourable benefits to individuals and communities,” Dr St John reiterated.