Background: Spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) B.1.1.529 (omicron) variant, which led to increased U.S. hospitalizations for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), generated concern about immune evasion and the duration of protection from vaccines in children and adolescents.
Methods: Using a case-control, test-negative design, we assessed vaccine effectiveness against laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 leading to hospitalization and against critical Covid-19 (i.e., leading to receipt of life support or to death). From July 1, 2021, to February 17, 2022, we enrolled case patients with Covid-19 and controls without Covid-19 at 31 hospitals in 23 states. We estimated vaccine effectiveness by comparing the odds of antecedent full vaccination (two doses of BNT162b2 messenger RNA vaccine) at least 14 days before illness among case patients and controls, according to time since vaccination for patients 12 to 18 years of age and in periods coinciding with circulation of B.1.617.2 (delta) (July 1, 2021, to December 18, 2021) and omicron (December 19, 2021, to February 17, 2022) among patients 5 to 11 and 12 to 18 years of age.
Results: We enrolled 1185 case patients (1043 [88%] of whom were unvaccinated, 291 [25%] of whom received life support, and 14 of whom died) and 1627 controls. During the delta-predominant period, vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization for Covid-19 among adolescents 12 to 18 years of age was 93% (95% confidence interval [CI], 89 to 95) 2 to 22 weeks after vaccination and was 92% (95% CI, 80 to 97) at 23 to 44 weeks. Among adolescents 12 to 18 years of age (median interval since vaccination, 162 days) during the omicron-predominant period, vaccine effectiveness was 40% (95% CI, 9 to 60) against hospitalization for Covid-19, 79% (95% CI, 51 to 91) against critical Covid-19, and 20% (95% CI, -25 to 49) against noncritical Covid-19. During the omicron period, vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization among children 5 to 11 years of age was 68% (95% CI, 42 to 82; median interval since vaccination, 34 days).
Conclusions: BNT162b2 vaccination reduced the risk of omicron-associated hospitalization by two thirds among children 5 to 11 years of age. Although two doses provided lower protection against omicron-associated hospitalization than against delta-associated hospitalization among adolescents 12 to 18 years of age, vaccination prevented critical illness caused by either variant. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.).
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