Recently in the United States, Pfizer / BioNTech filed a request to allow emergency use of their vaccine in the country for children aged 5 to 11. It's already legal to vaccinate children as young as 12 years old, and swift approval of a vaccine for young children could help mitigate a potential spike in cases. Now 27% of the total number of coronavirus infections in the United States falls on children, they are less likely to get severely ill, but can transmit the virus to others, including vulnerable groups.
In many countries of the world, including the European Union, a campaign to vaccinate children from the age of 12 is also underway. And China, the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Venezuela are going to vaccinate children in the near future. Let’s talk about the peculiarities of vaccination of children in other countries of the world, as well as present the results of medical research on the safety of vaccinations.
Most countries vaccinate teens 12+ with Pfizer / BioNTech. The third phase of clinical trials involving children aged 12-15 years has shown the high efficacy and safety of this vaccine for this age group.
The likelihood of transmission of the virus to adolescents, especially older ones, is the same as that of adults. Vaccination may be offered to children 12–15 years of age with underlying medical conditions that place them at a significantly higher risk of severe disease. WHO also recommends vaccinating adolescents in countries with already high vaccination coverage.
Side effects for children aged 12 to 15 are similar to those experienced by people aged 16 and older: pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, fever.
In terms of vaccinations for children under 12, Pfizer released Phase 2 clinical trial data in September (age group 5-11). The vaccine has been shown to be safe and provide a "robust immune response".
For children under 12, a lower dose was used - 10 μg, compared with a dose of 30 μg for persons 12 years and older.
The company is also currently testing a vaccine for children aged 2 to 5 years and children aged 6 months to 2 years. The data is expected in the IV quarter.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, according to WHO, is not recommended for people under 18 years of age until further research results are available. Moderna in the US filed for an emergency vaccine permit for teens in June but is still awaiting a decision. At the same time, Finland temporarily does not recommend vaccination of Moderna for men under 30 years of age.
How about vaccinating the children?
Cuba was the first in the world to start vaccination against Covid-19 of children from 2 to 11 years old with Abdala and Soberana drugs, which are not recognized by WHO.
China in June began allowing some children between the ages of 3 and 17 to receive the Sinovac vaccine. The country has set a goal to vaccinate 80% of its 1.4 billion population by the end of the year. In theory, the Covid-19 vaccination in China is voluntary, although some local authorities have said that students will not be allowed to return to school unless the entire family is fully vaccinated.
In Chile, Sinovac is already approved for use in children 6 years of age and older.
In the European Union, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Pfizer for children 12 to 15 in May. Such countries have begun to vaccinate children:
Denmark (12 to 15 years old) and Spain (12 to 19 years old) vaccinated most of their child population with at least one dose;
France requires adolescents 12-17 years old for vaccination certificates to enter restaurants, cafes, museums, sports facilities and intercity transport;
Germany recommends getting the Covid vaccine for all people over 12 years old with parental permission;
in Sweden, children between the ages of 12 and 15 are only eligible for vaccination if they have lung disease, asthma or another high-risk disease.
In non-EU Norway, the introduction of the vaccine was recently extended to children between the ages of 12 and 15, but only the first dose will be offered and the decision on the second dose will be made at a later date.
The UK recommended one dose of Pfizer in September for all children aged 12 to 15. The second dose should not be considered until spring. Children under 16 who can prove they understand the risks and benefits can ask for the vaccine or refuse it if they disagree with their parents. Teenagers 16-17 years old do not need parental permission.
The process has begun in England, Scotland and Wales and is due to begin in Northern Ireland soon. But the rules are different: in Scotland, in addition to being invited to make an appointment at the clinic, children between the ages of 12 and 15 can be vaccinated at health centers. In England and Northern Ireland, vaccinations are carried out in schools. And in Wales, vaccination centers are used with different conditions in different regions.
In the US, several school boards voted to make the vaccine compulsory for children 12+, despite objections from some parents. In Los Angeles, this rule was expanded to 600,000 students, while in New York, school staff must have vaccinations, but not students.
India may start vaccinating children 12 to 17 years old in October, but wider adoption will take place only after adult vaccinations are complete.
Vaccination in Ukraine
The National Technical Group of Experts on Immunization (NTGEI) intends to recommend to the Ministry of Health the Pfizer vaccine for all children 12 years of age and older.
"On September 27, NTGEI voted to recommend the Ministry of Health to make the Covid-19 vaccine available to everyone from the age of 12. This is the Pfizer vaccine. We emphasize the importance of vaccinating children and against infectious diseases that are included in the vaccination schedule. Check your vaccination schedule before than go for vaccination against Covid-19, vaccinate your child against other infectious diseases, "said the chairman of the NTGEI Fedir Lapiy.
At this point, there is a nuance. By order of the Ministry of Health, before vaccination, the child must be examined by either a family medicine doctor or a pediatrician. Mobile teams may include doctors of other specialties. The decision to have a nurse administer the vaccinations could simplify the algorithm.
In the meantime, the list of vaccines is limited and available for a child 12+ under one of the conditions:
in order to unite a family leaving for a country where a certificate is required to cross the border;
going to study in a country where a certificate is needed
is a participant in international sports competitions or other events in the country where the certificate is required;
the child has come from a country where he has already received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine.
Children 12+ receive 2 doses of 0.3 ml of Pfizer vaccine with interval of 21-28 days.