Vaccines against covid-19 are effective against severe disease in children and adolescents, according to a review. However, since most children are now infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and develop natural immunity, the additional benefit of vaccination in healthy children is minimal.
The international literature review, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, was published in BMJ Pediatric Open, Challenges and considerations for covid-19 vaccination are explored, particularly in low- and middle-income countries with high levels of community transmission and infection-derived immunity. Rolling out vaccines against covid-19 to children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries should also complement routine childhood vaccination programmes, which have a greater risk of disease and death, including measles, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases, the review reports. Impact.
Infant deaths from COVID-19 are very rare
Two-thirds of children infected with covid-19 who presented to hospital during the first two years of the pandemic did not require medical intervention, new research led by Murdoch Children’s has found. have become infected and may develop a serious infection, Child deaths are extremely rare. Globally, 16,100 deaths from covid-19 among people aged 19 and under have been reported.
The disease continues to evolve as people develop immunity to covid-19 infection over time. Previous research led by Murdoch Children’s Hospital found that croup caused by covid-19 declined in 2022 despite the emergence of new variants.
Similarly, data from the Pediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) Network and the United States found that, Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS-TS) was a major concern in the early stages of the pandemic, but decreased substantially during the covid-19 omicron variant.
Immunity makes little real benefit of COVID-19 vaccine for children
The review highlighted that while the childhood Covid-19 vaccine was effective when tested, its benefit was less in cases of higher immunity to current infection. The additional benefits are also much smaller compared with other life-saving vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, where child mortality from other vaccine-preventable diseases is much higher.
review pointed out Many countries have yet to incorporate proven life-saving vaccines into their immunization schedules, Includes pneumococcus, rotavirus, and human papillomavirus. In addition, he said, the resources required to deploy a covid-19 vaccine in these countries pose a considerable challenge.
doctor John Hart While there is no strong evidence to support routine vaccination of all healthy children, the It is different for high-risk children, Especially those with disabilities and certain underlying medical conditions.
“Given the very high prevalence of severe COVID-19 risk factors in low- and middle-income countries, a COVID-19 vaccine is an important consideration for all age groups, including children,” he said. However, The immediate interests of each child must be considered when making decisions, Not the wider household or community interests associated with transmission, especially since the effectiveness of vaccines against infection is temporary.
Huge Inequalities in Vaccine Distribution
“If a covid-19 vaccine is available to children, the opportunity must be seized increase coverage From standard childhood vaccines such as measles, pneumonia, rotavirus, polio, and human papillomavirus vaccines. Preventive health care and treatment must also be provided at every contact with the health system. This will help address the indirect adverse impacts of the pandemic on children. “
Murdoch Children’s Teacher, Fiona Russell, There is also a lack of public health data in low- and middle-income countries, he said, underscoring the importance of ensuring equitable access to safe and effective vaccines against future epidemics before exposure to infection.
“In low- and middle-income countries, when vaccines are available, most people are infected, which highlights the gross inequality global distribution of vaccines,” he said. More needs to be done to prevent this from happening again,” he added: “When vaccines are available to low-risk groups of otherwise healthy children, immunity to infection provides the same Similar protection. Vaccines and vaccine hesitancy are on the rise.”
“Countries with high proportions of children who are not vaccinated should consider whether to be vaccinated on their own merits, andBecause it’s important not to deviate from routine vaccinations, which are more beneficial for children,” Russell explained.
Reference article: Dos and don’ts for vaccinating children against COVID-19