Vaccination of children kicks off in Greece and around the world, sharpening debate about its safety

Today in Greece, the first babies will come for coronavirus vaccinations. Parents have more questions about this than answers. Many cannot make the right decision in any way that will help keep the child healthy. Vaccinate or abstain?

Fact-checking DW helps to figure out whether the coronavirus vaccine is really necessary for children, how safe it is, whether babies from 5 years old are at risk of COVID-19 infection.

The recommendation of the German Vaccination Commission to vaccinate children 5-11 years old has exacerbated controversy in society. Opponents of vaccination for children (as well as for adults) argue that it is not advisable and frighten them with unpredictable consequences. The DW edition dealt with their arguments.

The doctors’ recommendations are unambiguous: children from the age group 5-11 years old need to be vaccinated. The Standing Commission on Vaccinations (Stiko) recommended starting with those with chronic diseases. However, the parents have the last word.

Berlin will be the first in Germany to begin massively vaccinating children, vaccination there will begin on December 15. Vaccination centers, schools and even entertainment facilities – a zoo and a Museum of Natural History will be at the service of parents with young children. The answers to the many questions about childhood vaccination are more relevant today than ever.

Can vaccinations kill children?

The debate about the safety of childhood vaccinations has escalated amid the death of a 12-year-old boy from Cuxhaven, who died after the second vaccination. The media and social networks have spewed out a lot of statements citing vaccinations as the cause of death. But, to put it mildly, such statements are misleading, trying to raise the degree of passion.

The city administration of Cuxhaven has released the results of an autopsy carried out at the Paul Ehrlich Institute. A PEI statement based on the findings says the boy has been diagnosed with severe heart disease:

“Given the medical evidence, vaccination cannot be considered a cause of death.”

The latest PEI report says that up to September 30, Germany has recorded 5 deaths after vaccination with BioNTech / Pfizer in the 12-17 age group. Of the five, three were found to have serious chronic diseases. The director of the Clinic for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the University Hospital of Cologne, Professor Jörg Dötsch, claims that none of these deaths is related to vaccination:

“There is no evidence that vaccines can kill children. The deaths of children in Germany closely coincided with the introduction of the vaccine, but none of the deaths were due to vaccinations.”

Risk of infection

Opponents of childhood vaccination argue that young children are not at serious risk of infection. Unfortunately, experts say, this is not the case. Children can become infected with COVID-19, and get sick, and become distributors of the virus. Their coronavirus, as shown by recent studies, can also lead to serious consequences.

After examining data from the start of the pandemic to March 2021, experts found that rates of infection and clinical manifestations of covid in children 5-17 years old were comparable to rates of infection and disease in the age group 18 to 49 years. Moreover, they exceeded those in adults aged 50 and over.

At a briefing in early December, representatives of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 8,300 hospitalizations of children 5-11 years old with coronavirus were registered by mid-October, almost 100 of them died. Moreover, in this age group, COVID-19 is among the top ten causes of death of children.

This post is confirmed by DW of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at the University of Colorado, Sean O’Leary:

“More than 6.6 million children have been infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic, with varied consequences. Children are getting covid and some of them are getting very sick.”

Most children have no or very mild symptoms, according to a Harvard Medical School research publication, but they too are at risk of contracting the coronavirus. The danger of its severe course is much higher in the presence of chronic diseases.

Vaccination and myocarditis

A popular argument from opponents of childhood vaccination is that the coronavirus vaccine can cause severe myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and lead to blood clots. Statistics say that the cases of myocarditis during vaccination of children are 1: 16,000. But in a child infected with a coronavirus, says Sean O’Leary, the likelihood of myocarditis is much higher than in a vaccinated one:

“When infected with coronavirus, the risk of severe inflammation of the heart muscle is much higher than after vaccination. In the second case, myocarditis is extremely rare, proceeds in a very mild form and go away on its own.”

Professor Jörg Dötsch confirms that the incidence of myocarditis after vaccination was approximately one in 16 thousand children:

“Compared to this, the risk of developing myocarditis with COVID-19 infection is about six times higher.”

He explains that the risk of blood clots is predominantly associated with the AstraZeneka vector vaccine and is very rare when vaccinated with BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines.

The likelihood of death of children – which is more dangerous, a virus or a vaccine

Many parents have a banal fear of vaccinating their children, which reinforces another fake statement actively promoted on social networks: the probability of a child dying after vaccination is 50 times higher than from infection with coronavirus. Michael Yeedon, a former vice president of research and development at Pfizer, is behind this false claim. During the pandemic, he became an activist in the anti-vaccination movement. He voiced this thought in an interview with former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon on his War Room podcast. Even earlier, Yidon confidently reported that vaccinations against coronavirus cause infertility, and that vaccines are a weapon of genocide against humanity.

However, there is not a single proven case of death of a child after being vaccinated against coronavirus. Sean O’Leary says:

“There is not a single factual evidence to support the claim that children are more likely to die from the coronavirus vaccine than from the virus itself. However, we know for sure that children can get very sick and die from COVID-19 infection.”

He cites the data of the AAP report, compiled on the basis of information from 45 US states, Puerto Rico and Guam, which says that at least 636 children have died from the coronavirus from the beginning of the pandemic until November 18 of this year. The document notes that so far not a single case of death of children from vaccination against coronavirus has been registered:

“Many people believe misleading information based on reports from the government’s Vaccine Adverse Reactions Reporting System (VAERS). However, VAERS can be approached by anyone, including parents and patients, and until the message is verified and confirmed by experts, it is not proof. that the vaccine caused an adverse effect. “

So is it worth vaccinating children – let’s summarize

Undoubtedly, it is too early to make an unequivocal conclusion about the absence or presence of side effects of vaccinations in children – large-scale vaccination of the age group of 5-11 years is just beginning around the world. But at the moment, based on numerous clinical studies, there is absolutely no evidence of the dangers of the vaccine for young children. Regarding the long-term effects, Professor Jörg Dötsch of the University Hospital Cologne says that they are not expected, “since the mRNA contained in the vaccine is cleared from the body after a few days and cannot affect the structure of the DNA.”

Given the above, the benefits of vaccination clearly outweigh the potential risks. But the final decision rests with the parents. Sean O’Leary of the American Pediatric Association says:

“Vaccinations will protect children from infection and allow them to fully engage in all activities, it is important for health and development. Children will also be able to safely visit friends and family during the holidays and Christmas holidays.”

The European Union approved vaccinations for children 5-11 years oldby recommending Pfizer / BioNTech for this. The dose of the drug for them will be 1/3 of that used in the age group from 12 years old (10 mcg versus 30 mcg). Children, like adults, will need to be given two doses of Comirnaty (the name of the drug from German and American companies) at 3-week intervals. The injection is given intramuscularly. Studies have shown that antibody production at a dose of 10 mcg was comparable to the 30 mcg dose used in the elderly.

In Greece, children can be vaccinated in primary health care facilities and hospitals in 75 districts Greece… Gradually, the number of vaccination centers and medical centers will increase. Cruise vaccinations are planned to be launched in the islands and in remote areas of the country, as was organized with the first and second doses for all age groups.

Clinical studies on the effects of Pfizer vaccine on children over 5 years of age support the safety of the vaccine. A large vaccination study involving 2,000 children aged 5 to 11 years showed that the immune response to Comirnaty at a dose of 10 mcg was comparable to that observed at the maximum dose (30 mcg) at the age of 16 to 25 years. Effectiveness was estimated at 90.7% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. The actual figure can range from 67.7% to 98.3%.





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