Consider benefits of immunising children against COVID-19

Consider benefits of immunising children against COVID-19
Consider benefits of immunising children against COVID-19

Consider benefits of immunising children against COVID-19

WHO says countries need to do a thorough consideration when deciding to vaccinate children against COVID-19, at the expense of adults who are more vulnerable to the virus.

COVID-19 which was declared a pandemic globally has mainly been infecting adults, especially those with underlying conditions.

The virus has been less lethal to children.

This has seen WHO urging countries to consider weighing the benefits of focusing on vaccinating children at the expense of adults.

‘’Countries should consider the individual and population benefits of immunising children and adolescents in their specific epidemiological and social context when developing their COVID-19 immunisation policies and programs.

‘’As children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults, unless they are in a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions and health workers,’’ read the WHO statement.

The health body was however quick to point out that vaccinating children may help reduce transmission in institutions of learning.

‘’There are benefits of vaccinating children and adolescents that go beyond the direct health benefits.

‘’Vaccination that decreases COVID transmission in this age group may reduce transmission from children and adolescents to older adults and may help reduce the need for mitigation measures in schools.

‘’Minimizing disruptions to education for children and maintenance of their overall well-being, health and safety are important considerations. Countries’ strategies related to COVID-19 control should facilitate children’s participation in education and other aspects of social life, and minimize school closures, even without vaccinating children and adolescents.

‘’UNICEF and WHO have developed guidance on how to minimize transmission in schools and keep schools open, regardless of vaccination of school-aged children.

‘’Aligned and coordinated action is needed to achieve the global COVID-19 vaccination targets. Given current global inequity in vaccine access, the decision to vaccinate adolescents and children must account for prioritization to fully protect the highest risk subgroups through primary vaccination series, and as vaccine effectiveness declines with time since vaccination, through booster doses.

‘’As such, before considering implementing primary vaccination series in adolescents and children, attaining high coverage of primary series – and booster doses as needed based on evidence of waning and optimizing vaccination impact – in highest risk subgroups, such as older adults, must be considered.

‘’As a matter of global equity, as long as many parts of the world are facing extreme vaccine shortages, countries that have achieved high vaccine coverage in their high-risk populations should prioritize global sharing of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility before proceeding to vaccination of children and adolescents who are at low risk for severe disease.

‘’It is of utmost importance for children to continue to receive the recommended childhood vaccines for other infectious diseases.’’

Consider benefits of immunising children against COVID-19

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