- Now, when it comes time to vaccinating kids, the same urgency and large-scale coordination efforts driving adult vaccination must continue if we want to sustainably drive down Covid-19 cases and ultimately end the pandemic.
- Currently, vaccine demand among adults exceeds supply. But there’s reason to worry that once children are eligible, vaccination rates for them will initially be far lower and rise more slowly than those seen among adults.
- One reason to vaccinate children quickly is that even a small number of critical Covid cases among children is worth vaccinating against. The burden of long-term Covid effects in children remains unclear, especially since many have asymptomatic infections that go undiagnosed.
- But the most important and least recognised reason is the possibility that the virus will continue to spread and mutate into more dangerous variants, including ones that could harm both children and adults. Future variants that cause more severe illness in children are likely to emerge from children themselves, especially with adults becoming less hospitable hosts for infection as vaccinations rise.
- Clinical trials to prove that the vaccines are safe for use in children are underway. But in order to figure out whether a vaccine is effective in kids, the main outcome of the trials needs to be common enough among children to determine whether a vaccine makes any real difference. Fortunately, at the moment, serious disease (and deaths) among children is too rare for any reasonable-size trial to measure. Instead, vaccine trials for children (say, in the US) will primarily focus on safety and whether the vaccines produce an immune response.
- So far, children have mostly been spared from the worst aspects of this disease. However, we owe that to a lot of luck. From here on, we must deliberately protect them.
Full NYT opinion piece here