Will vaccinating children under the age of 12 bring the US to herd immunity?
- COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11 may be available soon.
- Experts say vaccinating this age group is an essential part of herd immunity, but vaccine hesitation could halt progress against the pandemic.
- About 57 percent of the US population is currently vaccinated.
- Experts believe that the US will not achieve herd immunity until 70 to 90 percent of the population is vaccinated.
A panel of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) external vaccine advisors will meet on Tuesday to review Pfizer’s application to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5-11.
If Pfizer’s application is approved, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will review Pfizer’s application. If Pfizer succeeds, health officials expect a vaccine for younger children could be available as early as the first few weeks of November.
Could vaccinating children help us finally achieve herd immunity and overcome the pandemic? Healthline asked two experts to intervene.
Eric Cioe-Peña, Dr.
“There is enough protection from vaccinations so that the whole ‘herd’ is immune,” said Dr. Cioe-Peña. “For something as contagious as the Delta [variant] of COVID-19, that number is likely over 90 percent, so we’re getting close in some small communities, but the country as a whole isn’t there yet.
When asked if vaccinating younger children brings us to herd immunity, he affirmed that this is “part of the solution”.
“But until many eligible adults are vaccinated, I don’t think this pandemic will end,” said Cioe-Peña.
“According to the CDC, 57.4 percent of the US population was fully vaccinated on October 24,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
However, he pointed out that even with more than 45 million registered official COVID-19 infections, “we are not even close” to meeting the national vaccination levels required for herd immunity.
Dr. Glatter agreed that a full vaccination of the majority of the approximately 28 million children aged 5 to 11 years would be “integrated” in order to achieve herd immunity.
“But the reality is that it can be challenging as many parents have already raised concerns about the low risk of myocarditis with the vaccination and ultimately decide it just isn’t worth the risk,” he said.
The FDA reviewed data from an initial study of the Pfizer vaccine given to several thousand children ages 5-11 and found no cases of myocarditis or pericarditis at a third dose given to teenagers and adults.
However, this cannot convince enough parents to protect their children.
Cioe-Peña believes that one-on-one meetings with trusted healthcare professionals will help reduce “the noise on social media and out there that scares parents.”
“I am the parents of a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old, and my wife and I have no concerns about vaccinating them,” he said.
Cioe-Peña pointed out that a break in schooling and children’s lives is far more harmful than any possible side effects of the vaccine.
“Vaccines are better tolerated in children than in adults,” he said. “[The COVID-19] The vaccine is safe and effective and will normalize our children’s lives. “
According to Glatter, parents believe that children are more vulnerable than adults and see that “their first duty is to protect their children at all costs”.
He stated that pediatricians need to take a careful approach to talking to parents. You must make “every effort” to impart practical knowledge about the risks and benefits of vaccinating against COVID-19.
Glatter confirmed that researchers are still paying close attention to myocarditis, which is more common in children than middle-aged or older adults.
However, he noted that when they modeled the data based on administration to millions of children, “they found that the rate of myocarditis is similar in people ages 12-15”.
“The number of ‘clinically significant’ COVID-19 complications prevented would definitely outweigh the risk of vaccine-associated myocarditis cases in a number of COVID-19 infections in the community,” said Glatter.
He emphasized that the risk of COVID-19 complications was significantly higher than that associated with a vaccination.
“The bottom line is that the risk of complications from a COVID-19 infection clearly outweighs the risks of a COVID-19 vaccination,” said Glatter.
Federal health officials are considering approving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5-11, with the possibility of it being distributed as early as early November.
Experts say vaccinating this age group is an essential part of achieving herd immunity, but the vaccine’s hesitation could halt progress against the pandemic.
They also emphasize that the COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective for children, and that the risk of COVID-19 complications in children far outweighs the risk of vaccination against COVID-19.