Covid-19 in children aged 5–11: Examining the issues surrounding vaccination and public health policy

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Abstract

Background: Children under 12 are now the largest unvaccinated group. Following FDA approval, vaccination of 5–11 year olds is now being encouraged in some countries. We present data on child COVID-related morbidity in Israel and discuss the complexities surrounding vaccinating children aged 5–11. Methods: Data were obtained from Israel's open COVID database regarding new confirmed daily COVID-19 cases, severe hospitalized cases and deaths by age group in Israel from February 2020-November 2021, as well as vaccination rate and adverse events following vaccination. Results: In 5–11 year olds, there were 460 hospitalizations, including 72 moderate to critical (0.007% population rate), with 3 deaths (0.0003% population rate). Children (0–19) made up the largest proportion (41%) of cases, but comprised just <0.1% of deaths, and <1% of severe cases. Post-vaccine myocarditis was much lower than severe COVID risk except in boys aged 12–19 where it was equivalent to the risk of mechanical ventilation due to COVID in boys aged 10–19 (12 per 100,000). High numbers of children were quarantined. Conclusions: COVID risk is minimal for most children though rare complications do occur. Israeli and US pediatric associations have recommended vaccinating children, particularly in high-incidence scenarios where risk–benefit balance is more clear-cut. However only a quarter of eligible parents have vaccinated their children. Parents may consider health grounds but also restrictions on children, population vaccination levels, waning immunity and new variants, and should be provided with clear information to help them make an informed decision. Policymakers should reevaluate the need for isolations, testing and mask-wearing in school age children, which are detrimental to their wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPaediatric Respiratory Reviews
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Children
  • Epidemiology
  • Vaccination

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