Should young children get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available?

Any child will tell you that adults like to complicate things. And they rarely miss the opportunity to argue about things.

Example: Vaccination against COVID-19 for children between 5 and 11 years of age.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has Obtained emergency use authorization for children’s dose vaccine Manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention subsequently recommended the widespread use of the vaccine among 28 million elementary school-age children across the country.

The action was recommended by two independent expert groups who Advise the FDA with CDC on vaccines. Now, the lens is moving into small arms.

For adults and older children, groups like this almost always say that everyone should be vaccinated.but This time is different: Several members of the FDA advisory group made it clear that they believe that as many young children as possible should not be vaccinated, at least for now.

The CDC’s Immunization Practice Advisory Committee did not agree with these reservations, especially considering the data that the vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children between 5 and 11 years of age.

“Based on our expertise and the information we have, we are very enthusiastic,” the committee member said Dr. Beth Bell, Professor of Global Health, University of Washington.

Here are the details of the debate about the vaccination of young children.

Why are they all plots?

You may be wondering why there is a question about whether to vaccinate your child against COVID-19.

The danger of this disease seems obvious: Since the pandemic began, at least 94 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have died of COVID-19, and 8,300 have been seriously ill and require hospitalization.

Even some people with only mild symptoms continue to develop MIS, A condition in which the immune system goes out of control and begins to attack the perfectly healthy parts of the body. As of early October, 5,217 children had MIS-C, of ​​which 2,034 were 6 to 11 years old. Among them, 1% to 2% died.

They may also develop “Long-term COVID.” In the UK, about 8% of children who know they are infected with the coronavirus have symptoms that last for several months. They have fatigue, muscle aches, breathing problems or difficulty concentrating in school.

There is another important reason to consider vaccinating young children: to return to normal.

No one likes to wear a mask all day, or have to quarantine for two weeks after contact with an infected person. If most children are vaccinated, many epidemic restrictions may be lifted and the children can return to normal lives.

What don’t you like?

Not everyone sees it this way. Some parents are still not ready to vaccinate their children, and not all experts are sure that every child needs to be vaccinated. Throughout the pandemic, the chance of a child of any age dying from COVID-19 has never exceeded 1 in 2 million (usually much lower). This is four times lower than the chance of being struck by lightning in any year.

In addition, more than half of young children infected with the coronavirus have almost no symptoms. The children least likely to get sick or die are those between 5 and 11 years old. If babies and teenagers are infected, they are more likely to get sick, and more of them die.

Given all this, these skeptics will ask, why risk getting every child vaccinated against COVID-19-especially if there are safety issues that researchers don’t yet understand?

A terrible heart problem

One of the main issues debated by FDA consultants is a rare side effect of vaccination, which may not even affect children under 12 years of age after being vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine.Side effects are called Myocarditis, It can stimulate the heart muscle, causing some swelling and frequent chest pain.

Myocarditis following mRNA vaccination is absolutely unusual: if you vaccinate 1 million 16- or 17-year-old boys and give them an adult version of the Pfizer vaccine, about 70 of them will develop some form of disease. It seems to go away on its own, but if you get it, you may stay in the hospital for a few days. When these patients are discharged from the hospital, they will be advised to stop exercising for three to six months to make sure they are all right.

The problem is that no one is sure whether myocarditis will harm a child’s heart in any lasting way. They also do not know whether young children who have not yet started puberty can achieve puberty first. They count on child-sized doses that are too small to cause any such reactions.

How will we discover?

This is one of the problems in judging the safety of new vaccines during public health emergencies. In order to expedite the task of ensuring that the vaccine works safely in young children, government experts rely on some safety data from previous trials and asked Pfizer to test smaller doses in thousands of children in the age range of 5 to 11.

Even if myocarditis occurs as frequently in children as in adolescents, it would take more than 14,000 children in your test group to develop a case of myocarditis. For a test group of less than 3,000 children, it is very likely that you will not see any cases.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t happen—no one will know until millions of children are vaccinated.

The idea of ​​bringing millions of children into such an uncertain situation Upset some experts. But the government has a system Pay close attention to reports of possible side effects of vaccinationThe FDA assured its consultants that if cases of myocarditis start to appear, they will suspend vaccination, determine if there is a connection and let people know what they found.

Do the children already have some protection?

maybe. Elementary school students are very susceptible to the coronavirus. Even if it does not make them sick, their immune system will learn to recognize it, so the next time the virus strikes, their natural defense system can act quickly to shut it down.

A study by CDC researchers found that at least 40% of children fall into this category. But because the coronavirus is new, no one is sure how long a child’s immune system will remember it, or how protective it is.

With all this in mind, does it make sense to rush out and vaccinate them all? Some experts don’t think so.

Is it over yet?

Many adults have determined that the pandemic is about to end, and, boy, whether they have been proven wrong. At four different times, we saw the number of infections and deaths rise and then fall. So far, every time, they have returned to square one.

However, when considering whether most young children need to be vaccinated, whether it is about to end is really important. If the virus cannot spread quickly because many people are immune, then perhaps most children don’t need more protection—especially because vaccinating all children in this age group may be risky.

On the other hand, if another surge is coming, taking this risk may be a good way to prevent it from happening.

Are vaccines better able to protect young children or those around them?

Although most young children infected with the coronavirus do not get sick themselves, they are good at spreading the virus-and it’s hard to say that it is happening because they may look good when they do. This will be a real problem if they live or go to school with people who might be very sick if they are infected.

This includes other children with asthma, diabetes or obesity, as well as parents or grandparents with cancer or chronic heart disease.Young children in these situations may be vaccinated Cut the transmission chain Before it reaches the vulnerable.

Experts say that children with these high-risk health conditions should also be vaccinated to protect themselves.

Why do people get vaccinated?

Mainly to protect yourself. Also protect each other.

The more people vaccinated, the more protected the most vulnerable among us. For many people, it is worthwhile to risk the side effects of vaccination—even side effects like myocarditis—to help protect classmates or grandparents.

One thing is clear: children should be protected

The last thing worth saying about adults is that they love their children, and—not surprisingly—will resolutely protect them from any harm.This is why some adults who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 may need more information before vaccinating their children, while others Take your child directly to the pediatrician For their first dose.

it’s complicated.

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