NewsDec 8, 2021

Spina Bifida Association Update on COVID-19 – December 2021

COVID-19 Update by Timothy Brei, MD, Spina Bifida Association Medical Director, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA

December 8, 2021 – This update provides some of the latest information to help keep people with Spina Bifida and their loved ones healthy.

As of mid-November of 2021, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been recommended and made available for children 5-11 years of age. It was previously recommended only for children and adolescents 12 years of age and older. With the rise of the Delta variant in the United States, there has been a significant rise in the number of children who have gotten COVID-19 and required hospitalization. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 was one of the top 10 leading causes of death for children aged of 5-11 years in 2020. * Data also indicates that individuals with developmental disabilities and neurologic conditions are at increased risk of developing severe complications or death if they get a COVID-19 infection. 

We also know that for many children and adolescents with Spina Bifida, online learning was quite challenging, and COVID-19 prohibited them from participating in social interactions and extracurricular activities which are important to their development.

The Spina Bifida Association fully endorses the CDC guidelines in recommending that children between the ages of 5-11 also receive the COVID-19 vaccinations. Getting the COVID vaccines is the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 infection, or of helping prevent serious illness if a child does get infected. In addition, it provides the best way for children to again participate in school activities, play dates and other group activities important in promoting social development in this age group. 

The risks of getting COVID-19 infection and having severe complications from the disease are significantly higher than the risks of any more severe complications from the vaccine. 

This is in addition to ongoing recommendations for social distancing and protection. 

* To see the full report, Epidemiology of COVID-19 in Children Aged 5-11 Years, visit this link to the Food and Drug Administration website and select Event Materials from the meeting, “Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee October 26, 2021 Meeting Announcement.”

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines and children, please visit the CDC’s information on COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens. 

In November, the CDC also recommended that all adults who have been vaccinated receive a booster shot. This is due to several factors that the CDC has been monitoring. The first is the evidence of the increased ability of the Delta variant to be transmitted from person to person. In addition, over the past two weeks the Omicron variant has been identified. While very little is known about this variant, it appears that this variant of the virus has alterations in its structure (mutations) which scientists fear will make it even more easily transmitted from person to person than the Delta variant. There is also emerging evidence that there is some decrease in immunity that occurs over time after being fully immunized with the vaccine. This is not unusual to see. A booster shot after being fully vaccinated has been shown to further boosts the body’s immunity against COVID-19. 

The Spina Bifida Association fully supports the CDC guidance in recommending a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot in all adults who have been fully immunized. 

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine boosters, please visit the CDC’s information on COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots.