CARPHA issues vaccine caution

Port of Spain – 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, CARPHA Caribbean Regulatory System (CARPHA-CRS) Dr Rian Extavour said in a statement on Wednesday 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 5-11 years.

Also of great concern, 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 5-11 years with adult vaccines a risky practice,” CARPHA executive director, Dr Joy St John said.

“We are awaiting the WHO [World Health Organisation] Emergency Use Listing before we recommend use of the US FDA-approved vaccine developed specifically for children 5-11 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,” St John reiterated. (CMC)

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