Children ‘not’ at high risk

Children move around freely along Sandalwood Street in Lautoka. Picture: FILE/REINAL CHAND

Children are really not experiencing the COVID-19 disease in the same way as adults do, says World Health Organization immunisation director Kate O’Brien.

Responding to the question on the recommendation for children to get vaccinated, she said children were actually not at the significant risk of serious disease, hospitalisation and death from the coronavirus.

“That’s not to say that there aren’t cases that occur but generally speaking, compared with all other age groups, children are really not experiencing the disease in the same way that adults do, so it’s not really the group that we’re primarily concerned about,” she said.

“The other reason that you might want to consider vaccinating a child or an adolescent is can you protect them from either acquiring the infection, even if they don’t get very sick? And can you protect them from passing it on to somebody else? So that’s transmission.”

She said young children were not the major age group who were transmitting this virus.

“So we don’t have a really overwhelming compelling reason, at this point, given the supply constraints to be racing ahead and vaccinating children.

“We do imagine that there may be a pretty strong case for doing that in the future when we have more certainty and more clarity on the evidence but, at this point, we’re really focusing on making sure that all adults in the world get vaccinated and protected and for adolescents who have an underlying medical condition that puts them at significant risk of COVID disease.

“That may be a reason why that particular subgroup of adolescents should be vaccinated but we’re not recommending, at this point, a general adolescent vaccination program, in large part because of still some uncertainties in the scientific evidence and the supply constraint that we’re all living under right now and, again, we don’t yet have any vaccines authorised for children under 12.”

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