Safety of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 Vaccine in Children Aged 5 to 17 Years

JAMA Pediatr. 2023 Jul 1;177(7):710-717. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.1440.


Importance: Active monitoring of health outcomes after COVID-19 vaccination offers early detection of rare outcomes that may not be identified in prelicensure trials.

Objective: To conduct near-real-time monitoring of health outcomes following BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccination in the US pediatric population aged 5 to 17 years.

Design, setting, and participants: This population-based study was conducted under a public health surveillance mandate from the US Food and Drug Administration. Participants aged 5 to 17 years were included if they received BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccination through mid 2022 and had continuous enrollment in a medical health insurance plan from the start of an outcome-specific clean window until the COVID-19 vaccination. Surveillance of 20 prespecified health outcomes was conducted in near real time within a cohort of vaccinated individuals from the earliest Emergency Use Authorization date for the BNT162b2 vaccination (December 11, 2020) and was expanded as more pediatric age groups received authorization through May and June 2022. All 20 health outcomes were monitored descriptively, 13 of which additionally underwent sequential testing. For these 13 health outcomes, the increased risk of each outcome after vaccination was compared with a historical baseline with adjustments for repeated looks at the data as well as a claims processing delay. A sequential testing approach was used, which declared a safety signal when the log likelihood ratio comparing the observed rate ratio against the null hypothesis exceeded a critical value.

Exposure: Exposure was defined as receipt of a BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine dose. The primary analysis assessed primary series doses together (dose 1 + dose 2), and dose-specific secondary analyses were conducted. Follow-up time was censored for death, disenrollment, end of the outcome-specific risk window, end of the study period, or a receipt of a subsequent vaccine dose.

Main outcomes: Twenty prespecified health outcomes: 13 were assessed using sequential testing and 7 were monitored descriptively because of a lack of historical comparator data.

Results: This study included 3 017 352 enrollees aged 5 to 17 years. Of the enrollees across all 3 databases, 1 510 817 (50.1%) were males, 1 506 499 (49.9%) were females, and 2 867 436 (95.0%) lived in an urban area. In the primary sequential analyses, a safety signal was observed only for myocarditis or pericarditis after primary series vaccination with BNT162b2 in the age group 12 to 17 years across all 3 databases. No safety signals were observed for the 12 other outcomes assessed using sequential testing.

Conclusions and relevance: Among 20 health outcomes that were monitored in near real time, a safety signal was identified for only myocarditis or pericarditis. Consistent with other published reports, these results provide additional evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are safe in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / administration & dosage
  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocarditis*
  • Pericarditis*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccination / adverse effects


  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 Vaccines