The other day Pfizer/BioNTech filed an application with a request to allow emergency use of their vaccine for children aged from 5 to 11 years in the United States. It is already allowed to vaccinate children from the age of 12, and the rapid approval of a vaccine for young children can help mitigate the potential outbreak. Now 27% of the total number of coronavirus infections in the United States is accounted for by children, they are less likely to be seriously ill, but can transmit the virus to others, including vulnerable groups.
In many countries around the world, including those in the European Union, there is also an ongoing campaign to vaccinate children from 12 years of age. China, the UAE, Cuba and Venezuela are going to vaccinate children even younger then that in the near future. The features of vaccination of children in other countries, as well as the results of medical research on the safety of vaccinations will be discussed further.
Most countries vaccinate adolescents 12 years or older with a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The third phase of clinical trials involving children aged 12-15 years showed high efficiency and the safety of this vaccine for this age group.
The likelihood of adolescents transmitting the virus, especially the older ones, is the same as that of adults. Vaccination may be offered to children aged 12-15 years with comorbidities that expose them to a much higher risk of severe illness. The WHO also recommends vaccinating adolescents in countries with high vaccination coverage.
Side effects for children aged 12 to 15 years old are similar to those experienced by people aged 16 years and older: injection site pain, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, fever, joint pain.
As for the vaccination of children up to 12 years, Pfizer released the data on the second stage of clinical trials (age group from 5 to 11 years) in September. The vaccine has proven to be safe and guarantee a "reliable immune response".
The dose used for children under 12 was lower -10 mcg compared to a dose of 30 mcg for people aged 12 years and older.
The company is currently testing a vaccine for children from 2 to 5 years and children aged from 6 months to 2 years. The Data is expected in the IV quarter.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended to persons under 18 years of age before receiving the results of further research, according to the WHO. Moderna has filed an application for permission for emergency use of the vaccine for adolescents in the United States in June, but still awaits for the decision. At the same time, Finland temporarily does not recommend to inoculate men under 30 years with Moderna.
How is the vaccination of children in the world?
Cuba was the first country in the world to start vaccinating young children from 2 to 11 years against Covid-19 with a Abdala and Soberanadrug, which is not recognized by the WHO.
China began to allow some children aged from 3 to 17 years to be vaccinated with Sinovac vaccine in June. The country aims to vaccinate 80% of its 1.4 billion population by the end of the year. Theoretically, vaccination against Covid-19 in China is voluntary, although some local authorities have said that students will not be allowed to return to schoolif the whole family is not fully vaccinated.
In Chile Sinovac is already approved for use by children of 6 years old and up.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved Pfizer for kids from 12 to 15 years in the European Union in May. The following countries have started vaccinating children:
- Denmark (12 to 15 years old) and Spain (12 to 19 years old) have vaccinated most of their children with at least one dose;
- France will require adolescents aged 12-17 to have vaccination certificates for entry to restaurants, cafes, museums, sports facilities and intercity transport;
- Germany recommends that people over 12 be vaccinated against Covid with parental permission;
- in Sweden, children aged 12 to 15 are only entitled to vaccination if they have alung disease, asthma or other high-risk disease.
In Norway, which is a non-EU country, vaccination has recently been extended to children aged 12 to 15, but they will be proposed only the first dose, and a decision on the second dose will be made later.
In September, United Kingdom recommended a single Pfizer dose for all children aged 12 to 15 years. The second dose should not be considered before spring. Children under the age of 16 who can prove that they understand the risks and benefits can ask for the vaccine or refuse from her if they disagree with their parents' decision. Adolescents aged 16-17 do not need parental permission.
Deployment has begun in England, Scotland and Wales and is due to begin shortly in Northern Ireland. But the rules are different: Scotland in addition to the invitation to make an appointment at the clinic, children aged 12 to 15 can be vaccinated in medical centers. In England and Northern Ireland vaccination is carried out in schools. In Wales, vaccination centers have different conditions in different regions.
In USA several school boards voted to make vaccination compulsory for children aged 12 and up, despite objections from some parents. In Los Angeles, the rule has been extended to 600,000 students, while in New York, school staff should be vaccinated, but not students.
India may begin the vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 in October, but wider implementation will take place only after the completion of adult vaccination.
Vaccination in Ukraine
National Technical Group of Experts on Immunoprophylaxis (NTGEI) intends to recommend the Ministry of Health tpo allow the vaccine Pfizer for all children aged 12 and up.
"On September 27, NTGEI voted to recommend that the Ministry of Health make the Covid-19 vaccine available to anyone over 12 years of age. We are talking about the Pfizer vaccine. We emphasize the importance of vaccinating children against infectious diseases, which are included in the vaccination schedule. Check your vaccination schedule, and before you get vaccinated against Covid-19, vaccinate your child against other infectious diseases," Chairman of NTGEI Fedir Lapiy stated.
As of now a nuance exists, which is that by order of the Ministry of Health, before vaccination the child should be examined by either a family doctor or a pediatrician. There may be doctors of other specialties in mobile teams. A decision to let nurses vaccinate children could simplify the algorithm.
For now the list is limited and available for children aged 12 and up under one of the following conditions:
- in order to unite a family traveling to a country where a certificate is required to cross the border;
- the child goes to study in a country where a certificate is required;
- the child is a participant in international sports competitions or other events in the country where the certificate is required;
- the child came from a country where they had already received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine;
Children aged 12 and up are given 2 doses of 0.3 ml of Pfizer vaccine at intervals of 21-28 days.