The FDA is meeting on October 26th to give advice to parents on vaccination for children ages 5-12 and the Biden administration is poised to roll out vaccines for this age group for COVID-19. Is this a good idea and what information do parents need to make this decision for their kids?
I am not a pediatrician — I am a recently retired Internal Medicine doctor. I am not an anti-vaxxer. I have taken all the vaccines that have gone through the usual approval protocol for my age group. I have prescribed vaccines for adult patients for 35 years. I am a parent and have thought about the vaccination of children even though my children are grown and making their own decisions now. If I were making this decision, there are several questions that I would ask before agreeing to a COVID-19 vaccination for my child.
What is the risk of my child getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19?
COVID-19 mortality is not the same for all ages and the average age of someone dying from COVID-19 is 79 years old. For ages 0-19, the survival rate is 99.9973%. This means that for age 0-19 there will be one death for every 37,000 infections. Sweden, population 10 million, chose not to use masks, had no lockdowns, and did not close schools and had a low rate of infection for children and no deaths. A widely circulated article in the NY Times last month claimed falsely that 900,000 children have been hospitalized since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual number was 63,000, and even this number comes into question as the FDA/CDC have admitted we have a faulty PCR test for COVID-19 that has many false positives. Dr. Marty Makary and FAIRHealth analyzed health insurance claims and found that all the deaths of children at the time (about 335) were children who had chronic medical conditions and no healthy children had died from COVID-19. A rare post COVID-19 illness of excessive inflammation including myocarditis called MIS-C has affected 5,000 mostly healthy children with a mortality rate of less than 1% (46 children died)
Will my child spread the virus to teachers/me/grandma/grandpa?
An article by Benjamin Lee and William V. Raszka in Pediatrics found that in the first six months of the pandemic children were not the cause of most spread of COVID-19. The study cited above about Sweden also found that keeping the schools open did not lead to more illness in teachers during the pandemic. It seems that children spread COVID-19 less than adults.
How long does the vaccine last? Will my child need boosters?
Data coming in from England and Israel, countries with very high adult vaccination rates, shows the vaccine efficacy is wearing off over six months. It also appears the initial mRNA vaccines worked well against the original alpha strain, but is not working very well on the Delta strain, which is dominant now. Israel has already embarked on an aggressive 3rd booster for adults.
It is likely that this schedule will be the same for children.