According to the WHO website: “There is not yet enough evidence on the use of vaccines against COVID-19 in children to make recommendations for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults.”
During a social media session June 3, Dr. Kate O’Brien, a pediatrician and director of the WHO’s vaccines department, said children should not be a focus of COVID immunization programs, even as increasing numbers of wealthy countries authorize the shots for teens and children.
“Children are at [a] very, very low risk of actually getting COVID disease,” said O’Brien. She said the rationale for immunizing children was to stop transmission rather than to protect them from getting sick or dying.
O’Brien added it wasn’t necessary to vaccinate children before sending them back to school safely.
“Immunization of children in order to send them back to school is not the predominant requirement for them to go back to school safely,” O’Brien said. “They can go back to school safely if what we’re doing is immunizing those who are around them who are at risk.”
The U.S., Canada and European Union have all given the green light to some COVID vaccines for children 12 to 15 years old. In the UK, a decision to vaccinate all 12- to 17-year-olds is unlikely to be recommended by experts anytime soon, BBC NEWS reported.
One argument for not vaccinating children against COVID is they get relatively little benefit from it.
“Fortunately one of the few good things about this pandemic is children are very rarely seriously affected by this infection,” said Adam Finn, who sits on the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Infections in children are nearly always mild or asymptomatic, which is in sharp contrast to older age groups who have been prioritized by vaccination campaigns.
A study across seven countries — including the U.S. — published in the Lancet, found that fewer than two out of every 1 million children died with COVID during the pandemic.
Even children with medical conditions that would raise the risks of COVID infection in adults are not being vaccinated in the UK. Only those at “very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes” are recommended to be vaccinated.