Following the news that Pfizer/BioNTech will apply for authorisation of their Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty for children ages 5–11 after showing positive initial data from a trial at a lower dose in this age group; Philipp Rosenbaum, Senior Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData, offers his view.
He said: “It will be a delicate measure to broadly mandate a vaccine for children. The public, and particularly parents, have to be convinced of the benefits of vaccinating children without scaring off and putting too much pressure on vaccine-sceptical parents. While protecting the 5-11 age group is important to resume regular classes and curb the spread within schools, less than 60% of adults are fully vaccinated in several states. Public health measures and outreach programs should instead focus on getting more adults vaccinated. However, it will be very difficult to convince every adult to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, so parents and children that have already made up their mind to get a Covid-19 shot should be given easy access.
According to Rosenbaum vaccinating children is important, as their daily and close contact with many peers at schools increases their likelihood of catching SARS-CoV-2 and becoming vectors for the virus – possibly bringing it home to vulnerable relatives. However, he says that children have a very low risk of contracting severe Covid-19, thus a detailed record and careful evaluation of adverse events is key. “Rare cases of myocarditis have already been recorded after vaccination with mRNA vaccines in young adults – although it has been shown that the risk of myocarditis after infections with SARS-CoV-2 is much higher.”
“The fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in the US due to the Delta variant shows signs of slowing down. Most hospitalisations and deaths are still being recorded in unvaccinated people and although breakthrough infections of Delta can occur in vaccinated people, the likelihood of developing severe disease is much lower. Protecting children from Covid-19 will be another important step to end the pandemic and will be a relief for parents concerned about in-person learning at schools, especially in states that have little in the way of Covid-19 regulations and restrictions.”
Image credit: Mat Napo