COVID Vaccines: Which countries immunize children over 12 and how do they compare?
The race for the COVID-19 vaccine has focused on protecting the elderly and medically vulnerable before gradually moving into the rest of the adult population.
In the latest figures from the EU, 77.7 percent of the adult population in the block have received at least one dose of the vaccine and there are similar figures for the rest of Europe. So the question became who next?
The focus has shifted to vaccinating as many children as possible to try and reduce the spread of infection and variants in the community.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 in May this year, the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive such approval in the EU.
The authorization was based on a study of 2,259 children of the age group which showed that their immune response was comparable to that of the 16-25 cohort.
None of the children who received the vaccine developed COVID-19, compared to 16 who developed COVID-19 after receiving a placebo.
The EMA approved the Moderna vaccine for use in the 12-17 age group the following month. This time around, a study of 3,732 children in that particular age group showed that none of those who received the vaccine contracted COVID-19 compared to four in the placebo group.
Should children be vaccinated against COVID?
There has been a debate on the merits of vaccinating children who do not have underlying conditions because the chances of them developing serious illness from COVID-19 are quite low, and this needs to be balanced. with the potential side effects of the vaccine.
The EMA acknowledged that the limited number of the two studies meant they could not detect rare side effects. However, they concluded that the benefits of vaccines for this younger age group outweighed the potential negative effects.
Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis following administration of mRNA vaccines have also raised concerns.
A Harvard article in July reported that there had been 1,000 cases after 300 million vaccinations in the United States following Pfizer or Moderna jabs. The majority of cases involved adolescents or young adults.
The article also states that 79 percent of these youthful cases were mild.
Although vaccines have been approved for 12-18 year olds by the European medicines regulator in the past two months, not all governments or health agencies in the EU have followed suit.
However, many countries have started to open their immunization programs to children over 12 years old. This is how they compare.
The UK under-18 vaccination program is starting to take off in parts of the country. The four decentralized governments took slightly different approaches.
All adolescents aged 16 and 17 in England began being offered vaccines from August 23, while children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 or live with adults who present increased risk of serious illness due to the virus are eligible. .
In Northern Ireland, 16-17 year olds have already been able to access the vaccine for a few weeks.
As for the 12-15 age group that is not clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, the UK now appears poised to expand the rollout to include them.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) recommended on September 3 not to vaccinate children between the ages of 12 and 15. They believe there is not enough evidence to recommend expanding the deployment to this group.
They concluded that with just two in a million healthy children requiring intensive care treatment for COVID-19, the benefits of vaccination were “insufficient to support a universal supply.”
However, the committee left the door open for ministers to take a different path. They noted that it was not for them to consider broader issues such as the effect on the education sector and said ministers may seek advice from other places.
The four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) were consulted and on September 13 they recommended that every 12 to 15 year olds receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, citing the benefit of avoiding interruptions to the education.
The CMOs said that vaccinating children could reduce disruption in schools and that “overall this would provide enough additional benefit … to recommend vaccination of this group.”
“(British CMOs) therefore recommend, for public health reasons, that ministers extend the universal vaccination offer with a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to all children and young people aged 12 to 15 years that are not already covered by existing JCVI boards, ”the CMOs said in a letter.
The government is to officially state whether it will follow the advice of the CMOs, although some ministers have already expressed support for childhood immunizations.
The CMOs also said second doses would not be offered to the age group until at least spring, as they would wait for data to accumulate internationally.
Italy’s goal has been to vaccinate as many of its teenagers as possible when they return to school in September. Currently 62.43 percent have received a dose and 44.95 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the Italian government September 13 vaccination report.
Since August 16, 12-18 year olds can be vaccinated without an appointment in order to increase the vaccination rate.
The Pfizer vaccine was approved for ages 12 to 15 in late May, with bookings in most areas starting in July, while the Moderna vaccine was approved for ages 12 to 17 in early August.
Initially, the vaccines were only recommended for children with underlying conditions, but following the spread of the Delta variant, it was decided on August 16 to offer a vaccine to all children over. 12 years old.
The STIKO committee – the expert body that advises the German government on vaccines – said in a statement the decision came after reviewing new safety data, especially from the United States, following immunization of around 10 million adolescents.
They said that given “the current state of knowledge, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk of very rare side effects from the vaccine.”
Concerns have been expressed about myocarditis, the very rare inflammation of the heart muscle seen in connection with vaccination, particularly in young males who have been vaccinated.
However, STIKO said most of those people went to hospital and were successfully treated. They also highlighted the general risk of COVID-19 itself for heart health.
The country has so far administered a dose to 36.7% of children aged 12 to 17 and 25.8% are fully immunized, according to government figures as of September 12.
Ireland has experienced a remarkably high vaccination rate among the adult population.
92.6 percent of adults over 18 received a dose and 90.2 percent were fully immunized.
The country has focused mainly on immunizing children in recent weeks. The portal to register a child aged 12 to 15 for a vaccine opened on August 11 and has had more than 75,000 appointments made in the first 48 hours alone.
90.2% of people over 12 received a dose and 85.1% received both, according to Irish Health Service figures from September 13.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 19,523,117 people in the country have received at least one dose and 19,096,932 are fully vaccinated, which is about half of the Polish population.
Pfizer and Moderna have both been approved for over 12 years, with the former having been approved in June. 1.4 million doses have been given to children 12 to 17 years old, according to the Polish health authority on September 14.
It is quite low and vaccinations will be rolled out in schools. However, he has been reported that there is also little enthusiasm for this movement.
France was one of the first countries to open vaccination to people over 12 years old, on June 15.
68% of 12-17 year olds have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to figures published by Public Health France on September 12, while 56% are fully immunized.
From the end of September, those under 18 will be required to use the French health pass. This pass proves the holder’s immunization status or confirms that it has been tested within the last 72 hours, and is required to access places such as cinemas or restaurants.
Although it turned out to be controversial, its introduction saw adoption in vaccinations.
According to The latest health report from the Spanish Ministry of Health As of September 13, 79.2 percent of the approximately 3.9 million children aged 12 to 19 in Spain have already received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 58.4 percent are fully immunized.
The decision to offer the vaccine to under 18s or not is up to regional authorities. As a result, different regions initially started offering vaccines at different times.
The Danish health authority gave the green light to immunize children aged 12 to 15 in June, with vaccinations starting in July.
Denmark lifted all remaining COVID-19 restrictions last week. Their vaccine rollout has been strong and has included the 12+ year olds.
83.5% of people over 12 are fully vaccinated in the country.
Switzerland approved the Pfizer vaccine for children over 12 in early June.
According to the latest Swiss health figures published on September 12, 181,531 people aged 10 to 19 – 21.5% of the cohort – are fully vaccinated and 32.35% have received at least one dose. This is compared to 45.61 percent in the 20-29 age group who received both doses and 55.93 percent who received at least one.
Sweden only started opening appointments for minors in August, then only for 16-18 year olds, with the 21 health regions to follow “over the next few months”.
Children aged 12 to 15 are so far only eligible under special conditions, such as belonging to a high-risk group or living with vulnerable people.