Fun moment or risky move? Europe divided over vaccines for children

FILE PHOTO: Children are vaccinated against COVID-19 in Leipzig
FILE PHOTO: A girl waits beside her mother to be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a children’s immunization center in Leipzig, Germany, December 10, 2021. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

December 13, 2021

By Emilio Parodi, Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Bart H. Meijer

MILAN/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – As Europe begins to vaccinate younger children, countries are pursuing very different strategies in what will be a major test of the vaccination readiness of all levels. parents.

One region in Italy is sending clowns and jugglers to clinics, France and Germany are targeting only the most vulnerable children, while Denmark has been vaccinating even before the vials and Specially designed syringes are provided.

“Immunization should be a game, a joyful moment when children can feel at ease,” Alessio D’Amato, medical director of central Lazio, said in a video as he announced in December 15 “Vax Day” for children in the area.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s lower dose vaccine for the 5-11 year old group last month, after starting the vaccine in older children last month. Five.

However, the first deliveries of the baby vials will not arrive on Monday. Time for rollout varies, but most countries are preparing to start attracting young people a day or two after the first shipments arrive.

Belgium may not begin implementation until early January while national authorities prepare to issue guidelines.

Spain, which ranks among the world’s most immune countries with 90% of people 12 years of age and older fully immunized, will start vaccinating young children on May 15. twelfth.

Immunizing children and young adults, who may unknowingly pass COVID-19 on to others at higher risk of serious illness, is seen as an important step in taming the pandemic. In Germany and the Netherlands, children now account for the majority of cases.

The rollout comes as the European Union faces a massive wave of infections, accounting for more than half of global infections and 50% of deaths globally.

About 27 million 5-11 year olds are eligible for the vaccine out of a block of about 450 million.

PARENTS Apologize

But one big obstacle will be the parents.

In the Netherlands, 42% of the nearly 1,800 parents with children aged 5-12 said they would not vaccinate their children and 12% said they would probably refuse, according to a poll by television programmes. Dutch news Een Vandaag. Only 30% said they would vaccinate their children.

A survey in Italy by the polling company Noto Sondaggi published on December 5 found that almost two-thirds of those surveyed were in favor of vaccination, but that percentage dropped to 40% in other countries. Parents with children 5-12 years old.

Lack of data on the effects on children was cited as the main reason for the delay, while a third said children would be less likely to become infected and 9% were concerned about long-term side effects.

The US rollout has been slow since it began last month. Of the 28 million eligible U.S. children in that age group, about 5 million received at least one dose.

Some parents have been concerned about reports of heart inflammation, a vaccine side effect that is rare in young men at a higher rate than the rest of the population.

Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had not found any reports of children 5-11 years old receiving the vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech say no serious safety concerns associated with the vaccine have been identified in clinical trials.

“The data show that it is safe, effective, and has similar results to the results,” said Dr. Luigi Greco, pediatrician and regional manager of Lombardy training for the Italian association of family pediatricians. for older children.

However, some governments are limiting the rollout until more data becomes available.

In France, only children who are overweight or have serious health conditions are vaccinated starting from scratch.

The German vaccination advisory committee STIKO said it was unable to make general recommendations for the vaccine due to limited data available.

It is recommended that children aged five to 11 years with pre-existing medical conditions be vaccinated.


However, some health authorities don’t even wait for special kits to arrive, instead using the vaccine in stock for adults but only extracting a third of the dose.

When the Austrian capital Vienna last month opened its first 9,200 seats for vaccinations, all appointments were booked within days.

Denmark followed suit on November 28, saying there was no time to lose. After less than two weeks, more than 49,000 children aged 6 to 11 had received their first shot, about 13% of that age group.

The German state of Saxony, one of the hardest hit by a surge in COVID-19 infections, has begun vaccinating at-risk children under 12.

On Friday, Franz Knoppe traveled more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the Leipzig Heart Center in the state’s most populous city from Chemnitz with his two children, ages 7 and 11, to vaccinate children. .

“We are very pleased that it is now possible to vaccinate children under 12 years of age,” he told Reuters at the hospital.

Mathilda, who did not give her last name, is at the hospital with her 6-year-old daughter Erna.

“It’s important to vaccinate children and keep them safe, just like adults,” says Mathilda.

Meanwhile, regional authorities in Italy are coming up with creative ways to entertain and engage children while they are disturbed and make it easy for parents to arrange seating.

In Liguria, authorities created a cartoon superhero named Captain Vaccine, who carries a doctor’s bag and wears a white coat with a large “V” printed on his chest. He starred in a manga to be distributed in vaccination centers.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason in London, Emilio Parodi in Milan, Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam; Additional reporting by Matthias Rietschel in Leipzig, Philip Blenkinsop and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels, Maria Sheahan and Christina Amann in Berlin, Clara-Laeila Laudette in Madrid, Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, Michael Shields in Zurich; Editing by Alex Richardson) Fun moment or risky move? Europe divided over vaccines for children


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