Vaccinating children 5-11 years, the benefits outweigh the risks?

I American CDCs, i.e. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, formally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech anti-Covid vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. Vaccinations should start starting from Monday 8 November. The children who could be vaccinated are 29 million in the United States alone, 37 million in Europe and just over 3 million in Italy.

Doctors at the American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly” recommend vaccinating children, including very young ones. For some time, Pfizer had asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize their vaccine for children as well.

CDC approval comes just as Americans prepare for a potentially risky season. Cases in the United States have been steadily declining for weeks, but experts have warned that life indoors could, of course, cause infections to rise again.

Covid vaccine for children 5-11 years, what consequences

US estimates say that few of the 29 million American children in the 5-11 age group will be fully immunized in a month, but even partial vaccination will be able, experts assure, to provide some protection against Covid. . According to the forecasts of the CDC, every million doses given to children between the ages of 5 and 11 would avoid about 58,000 cases and 226 hospitalizations in that age group.

It is also expected that the immunization of children will be able to prevent around 600,000 new cases from November 2021 to March 2022 (here the main symptoms in children, which have changed since the beginning). And increased immunity could reduce the chances of young children passing the virus to vulnerable adults in their families and communities.

Vaccinations of younger children are likely to contribute to keep schools open. Covid has already forced around 2,300 schools to close between the beginning of August and October alone, affecting over 1.2 million students.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has already enrolled more than 20,000 pediatricians, family doctors and pharmacies to administer doses to the little ones. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 they will receive a third of the dose licensed for those 12 years of age and older and the vaccine will be delivered with smaller needles and packaged in smaller vials to avoid confusion with adult doses.

“Reassure skeptics about the effects of the vaccine over time? The vaccine experience is over 400 million doses in America and worldwide we exceed 1 billion and there have been no unusual things, there is no reason to believe that who knows what will happen in 10 years, there is no precedent for vaccines or a mechanistic reason for thinking about particular side effects. The benefit of vaccination over the risk of getting sick is absolutely greater“. These are the words of the famous American immunologist and White House health consultant for the Covid emergency Anthony Fauci, at Che Tempo Che Fa by Fabio Fazio on Rai3.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks? The position of prof. Remuzzi

And in Italy? It is now almost certain that the vaccine for 5-11 year olds will also come to us. Legitimate, of course, the doubts of the parents. The issue is delicate and complex, and as such it needs to be analyzed and tackled. Given that we know that to date, even with the most contagious Delta variant, children still rarely get Covid, is it really worth it?

In this regard, prof. Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri IRCCS Pharmacological Research Institute, wrote an interesting editorial in the Corriere della Sera, in which he explains why the advantages of the vaccine even for the little ones far outweigh the possible side effects of the administration.

Remuzzi, we recall, was the one who was among the very first in Italy to develop a real home care protocol for the treatment of Covid, with extraordinary results, even going so far as to demonstrate, on the basis of his clinical experience, which drugs life are essential when contracting the Coronavirus, from the very first symptoms (we had talked about it in depth here).

In the United States in the last week of September alone, 170,000 pediatric infections were recorded, while since the beginning of the pandemic, almost 6 million children have been positive for Coronavirus, with 520 deaths (of these 143 were between 5 and 11 years old ). In Italy, 741,356 cases of Covid-positive children confirmed up to 15 September in the population aged 0-19 were 741,356, with 33 deaths.

But there is more, if a child becomes ill with Covid he can contract, even if rarely, the Multisystemic Inflammatory Syndrome, which can cause severe damage to the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys and other organs (here are the symptoms of this disease to watch out for). Since the start of the pandemic, 5,200 of these cases have been registered in the United States alone from i 200 to 300, “But it could be more”.

“What prompts pediatricians to recommend the Covid vaccine to young children, however, is especially the fact that vaccinating them prevents the infection from spreading to other school pupils, friends who go out and adults,” continues Remuzzi.

In deciding whether or not to vaccinate children we must consider that where the virus circulates more or less freely, as in Brazil or Indonesia, even very young children die of Covid: in Brazil, Remuzzi points out, there were 1,000, out of more than 500,000 total deaths.

What possible side effects of the Covi vaccine in children 5-11 years

But what evidence do we have that the licensed, emergency procedure vaccine is really safe? “So far it has been studied on 2,250 children between the ages of 5 and 11, who had a much smaller dose of mRna, 10 micrograms in two doses, instead of the 30 given to those over 12 years old or to adults, again in two doses. The emergency approval procedure is however very rigorous and the 10 micrograms were chosen with great care to ensure the maximum antibody response even against variants, to the point that it was possible to prevent disease in 90% of children “.

What are the possible side effects in this age group? The same ones we are used to seeing in older kids and adults: sometimes discomfort at the injection site, tiredness, some fever. “But certainly not all children, many have nothing at all”.

Question myocarditis and pericarditis? 2,250 children will be few but none of them have had myocarditis. “This does not mean that when we vaccinate millions of children there will not be rare cases of this disease even in the smallest ones, judging from what we have seen in adolescents, these are forms that resolve themselves in a short time and very rare. The proportion is from 1 in 20 thousand to 1 in 50 thousand. The cases of myocarditis that occur following the Covid disease are many more and much more serious than those recorded following the vaccine.

The conclusion, says Remuzzi, is always the same: “The benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh the risks.”

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