Does vaccinating children and youths make sense?

At the end of May, the Comirnaty vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer became the first Covid vaccine to be approved for use in children aged twelve and over. Now Moderna has also already applied for EU approval of its vaccine for the youngest age group. The prospect of widespread vaccination of children against Covid has sparked a new debate.

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Die Presse (AT) /

Benefits do not outweigh the risks

Vaccination in children and adolescents does more harm than good, writes author and historian Gudula Walterskirchen in a guest commentary for Die Presse:

“The emergency approval in the US and the preliminary approval in Europe were preceded by a study by Biontech-Pfizer on a total of 2,260 youths in this age group. A very small study group. Half received the vaccine, the other half a placebo. Of the 1100 vaccinated, about 80 percent developed side effects. ... In the non-vaccinated group, on the other hand, not a single subject suffered from any symptoms, because the 16 infections were asymptomatic. ... This raises the question of what is the point of 'vaccinating' healthy children with a little-tested substance the risks of which are unknown.”

Público (PT) /

Only with the consent of both parents

Lawyer Nuno Cardoso Ribeiro looks in Público at how separated parents with different views on whether their children should be vaccinated should proceed:

“In general, the vaccinations provided for in the National Immunisation Programme are seen as a routine act in the child's life, without any special significance. ... They pose no particular health risks, are widely available and the benefits are obvious. The anti-Covid vaccines, however, are new drugs that have hardly been tested or studied. There may be risks that have not yet been fully identified. ... The decision of whether to vaccinate a child or adolescent against Covid-19 therefore carries a lot of weight - so both parents must reach an agreement.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Not as long as the elderly are dying in Africa

From a global perspective, the debate about vaccinating children is presumptuous, the Irish Times points out:

“As Europe debates whether to vaccinate children and plans how to store excess stock for use as booster shots in the future, in developing countries unvaccinated healthcare workers battle daily against soaring infection rates, high levels of severe illness and even shortages of oxygen. When G7 leaders meet in England later this week, correcting this imbalance should be the first item on the agenda. ... It is indefensible that healthy young westerners at miniscule risk of dying from the virus have access to vaccines while the elderly and medically-vulnerable in Africa or Latin America must wait.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Warranted in certain cases

Even if poor countries need more vaccines - in certain exceptional cases children and youths should be vaccinated, writes The Guardian:

“The odds are obviously higher for some children than others. Those who are shielding or clinically vulnerable should get the jab if it's safe for them, for example. There's a strong case for vaccinating 17- and 18-year-olds, both because older teenagers seem to react to the virus much like young adults do, and to help keep them at school in the run-up to A-levels. In a localised crisis such as Blackburn's, vaccinating children should surely be an option.”