After the arrival in our country of the first batch of pediatric vaccines against COVID-19, this Wednesday will begin the administration of the first dose in children from 5 to 11 years old in the different autonomous communities. The vaccination it will begin with the most at-risk minors and the oldest cohorts.
Questions and answers to solve all the doubts about the vaccination of young children
It all started at the end of November, when the European Medicines Agency (EMA) supported the extension of the license in the continent of pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech for him use of your pattern in this population segment. On December 7, the Public Health Commission (CSP) of the Spanish National Health System approved this procedure.
Although the research to make available vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 has been rapid, the development of compounds adapted to the child population has not been a priority given the minor impact on this population
While research to make vaccines available against the SARS-CoV-2 It has been rapid, the development of compounds adapted to the child population has not been a priority given the minor impact on this population. However, minors make up part of the contagion chain.
Infection in children is usually mild even in neonates and has very low mortality, but with some serious cases. In general, they are infected from an adult - because they are less contagious - and outside the school environment. Since the pandemic began, there have been 10 deaths in Spain in children under 10 years of age and more than 180 admissions to pediatric ICU.
"The individual benefit for children is very low, but not zero," he explains to SINC Roi Pineiro, Head of the Pediatric Service of the General University Hospital of Villalba. "Its disease burden justifies the vaccine. There are other diseases against which we are already vaccinating whose incidence of severe cases is even lower than in COVID-19."
In this context, Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics (AEPap) underline the importance of this vaccination to protect children, especially, those who have risk factor's. Although the pediatric population presents less severe symptoms than other age groups, there are cases in which it is especially important to immunize.
The individual benefit for children is very small, but not zero. Your disease burden justifies the vaccine. There are other pathologies against which we are already vaccinating whose incidence of serious cases is even lower than in COVID-19
"This wide range of manifestations of the infection has generated doubts in some parents, who ask about the convenience or not of vaccinating," he points out. Pedro Gorrotxategi, vice president of AEPap. "But vaccination in this age group is important and necessary."
Effectiveness and side effects
This same week, the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) and the Spanish Society of Pediatric Infectology (SEIP) They have published a document which reviews the scientific evidence available on pediatric vaccination against COVID-19 in Spain. The report finds that vaccination is the most effective measure to combat the current pandemic.
"Non-pharmacological measures - such as physical distancing and the hygiene respiratory and contact - contribute to the control of the spread of the infection, but some of them cannot be maintained indefinitely without affecting the desired normality, "he says.
Clinical trials conducted at this age have shown that vaccination is effective and safe. The main side effects are the usual ones: fever, chills, tiredness, headache and myalgia
Likewise, the study emphasizes that clinical trials performed at this age have shown that vaccination is effective and it has a favorable safety profile. Main side effects They are the usual ones: fever, chills, tiredness, headache and myalgia.
For Piñeiro, also a member of the Medicines Committee of the AEP, "the benefit / risk ratio of the vaccine is favorable. The risk of serious negative effects is less than the possible complications that can appear in case of disease. More than five million doses have been administered in children aged 5 to 11 years in other countries and at the moment it has not been registered no severe cases of myocarditis".
In addition, it must be considered that vaccination in children would reduce the burden of disease in this age group - currently the one with the highest incidence with more than 200 cases per 100,000-, and the collateral consequences of the pandemic in children and adolescents, such as lack of regularity in schooling and mental health disorders.
"It should also be taken into account that the circulation of the virus facilitated by unvaccinated population cohorts, such as children, could facilitate the selection of variants for which current vaccines could be less effective," the communication underlines.
When adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 were vaccinated, the incidence in that age group decreased. Now the same is expected to happen between the ages of 5 and 11, the most affected population at this time
Regarding the forecasts in the coming months, Gorrotxategi assures that "when adolescents between 12 and 18 years old were vaccinated, the incidence in that age group decreased, and now the same is expected to occur between 5 and 11 years, the population most affected at this time. "
Inform better than recommend
The COVID-19 Vaccine Has Been Proven effective and safe in minors, both in kids What teenagers, although it should always be prioritized in adults and populations at higher risk. In the smallest, it is a decision that must be made based on the epidemiological situation and the contribution to control of infection in the community.
"Child vaccination can serve as protection not only for individuals, but also for vulnerable people in their environment," he says. Francisco Alvarez Garcia, Primary Care pediatrician at the Llanera Health Center (Asturias) and coordinator of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the AEP, in statements to COVID-19 Vaccine Media HUB.
"It is recommended for the right to individual protection of children against a disease, which even if it is mild in general can do it seriously, as well as to support the maintenance of safe educational spaces, which allow a normalization of schooling, relationships interpersonal and psycho-emotional well-being of these children, "he adds.
The vaccine is recommended for the right to individual protection of children against a disease, which even if it is mild in general, can do it seriously
Francisco Alvarez Garcia
Of course, for Piñeiro "it is better report what to recommend, because the moment a health worker recommends it influences the parents. And all decisions must be respected. We must warn families about the existence of the vaccine, its effectiveness and its possible side effects, as well as the low incidence of the disease in children and the low risk of complications. "
"Each vaccinated child will bring us a little closer to the end of the pandemic, at least as we have known it. The last stage is not the eradication of the coronavirus, but rather learning to live with said virus without collapsing the health system," concludes the pediatrician.