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Experts answer questions about vaccinations for children aged 5-11

US medical experts answer Covid-19 vaccine questions for children ages 5-11

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of mid-March, about 27 percent of children ages 5-11 and 58 percent of children ages 12-17 in the U.S. were fully immunized.

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The Omicron variant is highly contagious and both parents and children are very susceptible to Covid-19.

But many parents believe that “the child is less likely to suffer from serious illness, let the illness come naturally”.

Jouelle Lamaute, a medical specialist at the U.S. Army Public Health Center (APHC), said most children are at low risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19, but some remain very sick.

Children with Covid-19 usually only get sick for a few days and then recover, but some children may go on to suffer from long-term Covid-19 and severe complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) that require hospitalization. Hospitalization or death, according to the U.S. defense portal DVIDS.

Here are some statistics that parents can refer to

The CDC recently published a study that tested children weekly for 7 months for Covid-19. The results showed that children who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine effectively prevented infection with the Omicron variant.

Especially:

In unvaccinated children, about half of Omicron infections are asymptomatic.

Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of Omicron infection by 31% in children aged 5-11 and 59% in children aged 12-15.

For children ages 12 to 17, unvaccinated children are eight times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr John Ambrose, APHC Senior Consultant Public Health and Epidemiology, said: “Vaccination is very effective in preventing severe Covid-19 infections that require hospitalisation. Vaccination against Covid-19 for children aged 5 and over is a great way to protect children, and The best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in your community.

Is MIS-C scary for kids?

Dr Ambrose said MIS-C was extremely rare, with only 316 cases of Covid-19 per 1 million children.

MIS-C is a potentially fatal multisystem disease. This is a disease that involves more than 2 organs, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, digestive tract, skin, or nervous system.

MIS-C can start within 2 to 6 weeks, with an average of 4 weeks after contracting Covid-19.

Lamaute noted that during Pfizer’s trial of the vaccine in children aged 5-11, there were no cases of MIS-C in the vaccinated population.

A CDC study published January 14, 2022 found that vaccination was 91 percent effective at preventing MIS-C among children 12-18 years old who were hospitalized in 20 U.S. states. In contrast, according to the DVIDS, from July 2021 to December 2021, 95% of children in this age group hospitalized for MIS-C were unvaccinated and 100% of cases required life support.

Children under the age of 12 were not included in the study because they were not vaccinated at the time.

Are vaccines safe?

“The Covid-19 vaccine is safe for children between the ages of 5 and 11,” Lamot said. Clinical trials have been conducted on thousands of children in this age group with no serious safety concerns,” DVIDS said.

Based on clinical trial data, some children may experience vaccine side effects similar to those seen with routine vaccinations, Lamaute said. However, side effects are normal signs that a child’s body is protected and should go away within a few days.

Parents are also concerned about reports of an increased risk of myocarditis or pericarditis in boys aged 12 to 15 due to vaccinations, which could lead to hospitalisation in some cases.

Rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported in children aged 12 to 17, Lamaute said. These rare cases are more likely to occur after a second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and within a week of vaccination, according to DVIDS. The study found about 54 rare disease cases per million doses in men ages 12 to 17, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But then the child is well treated and can resume normal activities.

Serious side effects that lead to long-term health problems are “extremely rare,” the CDC said.

The CDC recommends that everyone 5 years of age and older be vaccinated because the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the potential complications.

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