My five year old is now eligible for a COVID vaccine – should I get them vaccinated? , Health

Since 2020, we have heard that COVID is primarily a problem for the elderly or vulnerable. Vaccines have dramatically improved their protection against disease, but children and young people – because it is believed to pose little risk to them from COVID – remain at the bottom of the list when it comes to vaccinations. Huh. COVID vaccines are now only becoming available to under-12s in the UK.

The health secretary has deemed vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years “non-essential”, which I think is wrong, as I have argued before. Like many parents, I have witnessed a tidal wave of COVID-19 in our schools in recent months, as the government has prioritized school attendance while lifting most measures to contain the virus. Thankfully, I personally do not know any child who suffers from a serious illness or has developed COVID for a long time. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – for example, we need to consider the entire population, as we might for road traffic accidents.

That’s why I strongly support the childhood COVID vaccine, and not only as a virologist, but as a parent as well. I am one of the unlucky few who experienced a baby seriously unwell, with my son hospitalized at just 14 weeks with bacterial meningitis.

While I nursed my daughter, my wife somehow endured lumbar punctures, injections and sleepless nights to be with her; We were all stunned. Timely antibiotics thankfully saved my boy badly, but later on a visit to the clinic, I saw for the first time how lucky we were. If he was older, further childhood vaccines would have prevented this from happening.

The small percentage risk can often seem reassuring, and in fact, the risk of young children becoming seriously ill from COVID is low compared to the risks to adults. But this is a wrong comparison. The reality is that with COVID becoming so prevalent, the percentage risk posed by the disease translates into more severe cases in children. This becomes more apparent when you look at their risk apart from adults and see how COVID is affecting the health of children.

Children do not die in large numbers compared to adults, as we would expect, and public health has seen a steady decline in adolescent mortality rates since the 1980s. In 2020, there were less than 800 deaths among children aged one to 15, of which only 20 were attributable to either COVID-19.

However, 2021 saw a dramatic increase in return to schools, with over 120 COVID deaths among under-19s according to the Office for National Statistics. Under-18s represented more than 8% of hospitalizations during January’s Omicron peak, and COVID is now one of the top causes of childhood death in the UK.

On top of the initial infection, the life-long impact of COVID on a child is almost unimaginable. Thousands of children have experienced debilitating illnesses more than 12 months after catching the coronavirus, some even from the start of the pandemic, and cases are rising. Also, we have not yet determined the full impact of Omron.

Knowing that COVID causes other long-term complications – such as organ damage and, especially in children, pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome – and that vaccines can prevent infection and prevent serious COVID disease and death Highly effective in the field, protecting young children with them is definitely a no-brainer. The notion that catching the corona virus can protect children in the future is relatively irresponsible.

Parents worry about new drugs, which have the potential to cause rare and potentially serious side effects. One that has come to light is inflammation of the heart (known as myocarditis). This is a particular issue in male adolescents, but in the UK the risk has been reduced by increasing the difference between the first and second doses of young people in this age group. It also appears to be rare in young children because they receive a small dose of the vaccine. This risk far outweighs the potential for adverse effects from the virus, including more severe and longer-lasting heart inflammation from infection.

Like a seatbelt, in the rare event that it’s needed to protect against the worst, I’d much rather have a COVID vaccine than my child without one. No one knows what might follow Omicron, or how the wave of its new, even more infective BA.2 sub-version will play out – so why not guard against the relatively low chance of tragic consequences? There is no such thing as “mild hospitalization”, especially when it is your child in the ward.

You only need to look at a comparatively well-vaccinated group of over 16 to see what a difference this can make in terms of avoiding school disruption and improving safety for children and staff alike. Is. Reducing community transmission will be essential if we ever really want to “live” with the virus. Our safe and effective vaccines lead the way towards this goal, the sooner we get it, the better for everyone.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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