The time has come for the covid-19 vaccine to reach children between the ages of five and eleven. After the European Medicines Agency gave the green light to administer the Pfizer preparation, it was also approved yesterday by the Public Health Commission after receiving the endorsement of the Vaccine Report, and minors located in that age range are preparing to receive the puncture. Around 360,000 children from the Valencian Community, 133,000 in the province of Alicante, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics, will enter the vaccine coverage against the disease after a long period of waiting.
The vaccine for children comes at a time of global uncertainty due to the appearance of the omicron variant. The definitive scope that this new evolution of the covid could have is still unknown, although the World Health Organization has pointed out in recent days that omicron can cancel the effect for mild infections of current vaccines, such as the one to be administered to the children, who were already going through the covid in a mild way.
Faced with the question of whether it is useful to give the vaccine to minors between five and eleven years old in a changing context such as these weeks, the Valencian Pediatric Society points out that the inoculation is “positive” due to various factors. Its president, Eva Suárez, assures that, in the first place, “children have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated until now.”
“Every time there is a case in their school environment, they have suffered it by chaining confinements,” he asserts. Dr. Suárez emphasizes that “only if it is for that advantage”, it is already worthwhile to vaccinate children who until now had not had the vaccine. “There is no right for them to suffer and stay at home, they stop doing their social activities and that affects them psychologically,” says Suárez.
Then there are the doubts raised by the omicron variant, but Suárez asserts that there is still much to know about said strain. This professional suggests that, although the omicron could circumvent the coverage of the vaccine against the mild cases that are mostly registered in children, the uncertainty of the new lineage means that the future could go just in the other direction: «What if Is this or another variant begin to produce serious pathologies in children? Let’s see what we do then », says Suárez.
The Valencian Society of Pediatrics will be one of those present at a meeting with the Ministry of Health and Public Health next Monday, December 13, to discuss this long-awaited section of the anticovid vaccination. “We agree to carry out a massive vaccination as has been done with adults,” says Suárez, who has an impact on a fundamental aspect: the vaccinodromes that were used in that phase of the vaccination campaign “are already closed.” With this outlook, Suárez believes that the most logical option is to “vaccinate in schools.” This is a debate that already took place a few months ago when the age group between 12 and 17 had to be vaccinated and that then raised doubts among part of the educational community, since some centers were against it —and then the vaccine fields were open.
Pediatricians flatly reject that it is the health centers that accept the new vaccination of the little ones. “We are quite saturated and taking care of the third doses,” he argues. However, the position of the Valencian Pediatric Society is that extra personnel be hired for the incipient campaign. “Pediatricians have no problem going to schools, but we want them to replace us. We have agendas with 30 and 40 children a day and now there are six cohorts of children that must be vaccinated, that cannot be done in one day “, affirms Suárez.
Why is it important to vaccinate children?
“Infections have skyrocketed among minors, who are the protagonists of the sixth wave, and there are significant outbreaks in schools. It is still not urgent to vaccinate children, but it is necessary. We must act now, “concludes Roi Piñeiro, head of Pediatrics at the Villalba University Hospital, who clarifies that, more than important, vaccinating children is” recommended “to reduce circulation and minimize the appearance of variants.
What does an unimmunized minor risk?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, in Spain there have been some 6,000 hospitalizations of children, with 300 admissions to the ICU and 37 deaths (half of them, under 10 years of age). “There are diseases against which we are vaccinating that have similar figures,” added Piñeiro.
For what types of children is it not recommended?
There is no profile of a minor for whom the vaccine is not recommended. “Especially it is for those who suffer from any disease, such as cancer”, answers the pediatrician Quique Bassat. Parents of children with food allergies should rest easy. Contraindications are not different from those that exist in other age groups: severe allergy to any component of the vaccine (which is in vaccinacovid.gob.es).
Will they be given the same dose as adults?
No. They will be inoculated with a third. The dose for adults is 30 micrograms while that for children is 10 micrograms. It will be the same amount for 5-year-olds and 11-year-olds. It has already been decided that they will be given two doses spaced eight weeks apart.
Isn’t it more important to immunize the people of Africa?
Before vaccinating children, the focus should be on the most vulnerable population and on the global vision of the pandemic. As long as we do not achieve that goal, new variants will continue to emerge. You have to think globally, it is the only way to control the pandemic “, emphasizes the doctor of the Hospital Vall d’Hebrón Toni Soriano.
Is it safe to vaccinate them?
The answer from the scientific community is unanimous: absolutely. «The clinical analyzes have been very strict and slow. If all are done with a magnifying glass, these even more », says Bassat.
What side effects are there?
No significant effects have been found in the medium term. In short, inflammation in the area of the puncture. In people over 12 years of age, cases of myocarditis have been detected, 1-5 cases per 100,000, not registered in trials. The risk of myocarditis is higher after infection than after vaccination.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.