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May 18, 2022

Children: to vax or not to vax?

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COVID-19 vaccination for 5–11-year-olds is now available. Photo www.scienceinpublic.com.au.

Vaccination is not mandatory in Australia for the general population and parents are currently faced with the challenging task of making the decision on whether or not to vaccinate their children. Making decisions on behalf of our children is a significant responsibility and most parents wish to make these decisions based on what will provide the best outcomes for their children.

With the option to vaccinate 5–11-year-olds now available, The Echo took the time to talk to local Byron Shire Dr Joel Hissink about vaccinating children.

According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI): ‘Most children with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic or experience a mild illness. Those who are symptomatic typically have a short illness with a median duration of five days’, so why vaccinate?

The primary aim of vaccination is to give the body an opportunity to develop strategies to respond quickly and effectively to the COVID virus, in advance of getting infected.

‘Children receive a third of an adult dose of the vaccine,’ Dr Hissink told The Echo.

‘This produces equivalent immune cover to adults while reducing the incidence of mild and short-lived side-effects such as fever, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. As is the case for adults, these mild symptoms are a result of the body mounting an immune response to the vaccine.

‘Evidence-based, peer-reviewed and published data from the US Phase II/III trials of Pfizer for 5–11-year-olds showed that adverse events were mild and transient with 6.5 per cent of children experiencing mild symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches after dose two.’

Adverse events

There is significant commentary in the community around the impact of adverse events from vaccination but the real question is: Is the risk of taking the vaccine more dangerous than catching the COVID virus when unvaccinated?

Australian data reveal that the overall reported rate of myocarditis and/or pericarditis following Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (adult dose being three times the children’s dose) for males aged 12–17 was 6.8 per 100,000 doses while in females it was 1.4 per 100,000.

‘Early signs out of the US, where more than five million doses have been given to 5–11-year-olds, suggest that the incidence of myocarditis and/or pericarditis following the Pfizer vaccine is even less in this age group. Probably in part because of the lower dose as well as the increased gap between doses being eight weeks instead of three weeks.’

‘It is true that a much smaller percentage of children get severe COVID disease compared with adolescents and adults so there is a view that we should be holding out until they are older,’ said Dr Hissink.

‘Of course this would make sense if the vaccine caused frequent and severe side effects in children but the data do not demonstrate this. The data demonstrate that the overall health burden on children is greater in an unvaccinated paediatric population compared with a vaccinated paediatric population.

‘Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PMIS-TS), also referred to as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) has an estimated incidence of one in 3,200 paediatric COVID cases. Severity can be mild to life-threatening and usually requires hospitalisation. Studies from the US and France in 12–18-year-olds demonstrated that the incidence of this complication of COVID-19 is significantly reduced in those vaccinated. The US study showed a 91 per cent reduced likelihood of MIS-C. While similar studies in the 5–11-year-old age groups are pending these results are certainly encouraging.’

Dr Hissink also said that there is increasing evidence that those who are vaccinated have a reduced risk of long COVID. Long COVID is when the symptoms of COVID continue for more than four weeks and often persists for months.

‘The UK’s Office for National Statistics published data in April 2021 that demonstrated 9.8 per cent of unvaccinated 2–11-year-olds continued to have symptoms five weeks after contracting COVID-19. At 12 weeks post-infection 7.4 per cent of unvaccinated 2–11-year-olds still had symptoms. As is the case in adults and adolescents, it is expected that vaccination will similarly reduce the incidence of long COVID in children,’ said Dr Hissink.

‘A small study conducted in Rome and published in the international peer-reviewed journal Acta Paediatrica (Nurturing the Child) in April 2021 also found that one-third of children 6–16 years old reported symptoms at four months, most commonly insomnia, fatigue, muscle pains, and persistent cold-like symptoms. These are typical symptoms reported by adults with long COVID.’

Transmission reduction

School is due to go back next week and the virus has been raging through the community with infections and deaths at unprecedented levels in Australia.

‘The vaccination of 5–11-year-olds is also likely to reduce transmission rates of SARS-Cov2 within schools and beyond into homes and the wider community,’ Dr Hissink explained.

‘While we often hear that the reduction in transmission of SARS-Cov2 following vaccination is low, even a 50–60 per cent reduction in transmission would have a significant effect on the burden of disease in our community. While we are yet to see Australian data on the impact of transmission within primary schools, there is good evidence that transmission of COVID from healthcare settings to the home by healthcare workers is significantly reduced when the healthcare worker is vaccinated.

‘Evidence also suggests that the current vaccines offer broader immunity against COVID variants while the limited immunity one develops following infection with Omicron in the absence of vaccination offers only very little immunity to Delta and possibly future variants,’ he said.

‘Of course vaccination is only one strategy to minimise the burden of COVID-19 on our community. Another public health measure that has been highlighted by experts and should be of a similar priority to government and business is improved indoor air quality, particularly in our schools.’

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to say thank you to all the NSW Health staff that are working so hard to provide vaccination services. It was ‘kids day’ on the 26th of January at the Lismore Molesworth Street clinic, and the staff were on the job at 7.30am. I took my young bloke in early, and there were lots of other parents doing the same thing. The staff were friendly, professional, and had a great rapport with the children. Well done NSW Health.

    • Yes the staff work hard. The bureaucrats making the decision however need not be compared to the staff of NSW Health.

      Sweden has decided against recommending COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged five to 11, the Health Agency says, arguing that the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

      “With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm told a news conference on Thursday Jan 27, 2022.

      And yet here we are, with people calling for madatory jabs. People have clearly lost the ability to judge risks.

      • Who is calling for mandatory jabs for 5-11? I agree there are important aspects to be weighed in the risk/benefit equation for kids. I don’t have to make that decision for anyone so I’m happy to let those who do, make their call without my inexpert two bob’s worth.

        Just like it’s always possible to find one or two from the scientific community to support your stand – if you search hard enough or follow the right SM feed – you will find a jurisdiction that differs with as well. Is this really a knock-out blow? Do you not feel the need to balance this with the jurisdictions that support?

  2. Last month Scott Morrison said that his government was “building a bridge to get Australia to the other side of the pandemic”.
    In that statement he is trying to build a bridge to the people to get to the other side of the election as Labor is pressing ahead. The prime minister has to show a kind face to the people and not be draconian era of a past dark age of heavy handed Liberal Party laws and rules. In vaccination he could have demanded mandated compulsory vaccination.
    On the other hand the people now face the government, but no matter how you are armed and take the ferry boat across the Mersey to get to the other side or you take the ferry boat to cross the Murray, to get to the other side you have to pay. We all live in a monetary world where Peter pays Paul.
    Without mandatory vaccination we as a nation are paying, paying dearly, in 2020, 2021 and now 2022, we are paying yearly as the debt mounts up in the economy, when it need not have been so.
    And now in 2022 our children are to go back to school and parents, because the prime minister asked us to choose maybe wellness or sickness for our kids and whether they could get COVID-19 or not, we have a dilemma. Do we or don’t we inoculate our kids with vaccine? We responsible parents have the life and well-being of our kids in our hands.
    So we make the responsible decision and send our kids off to school in the knowledge they will not get COVID-19 at school or in the playground from any other kid. It is just another step to get to the other side. Take a ticket to ride. Feel good inside for your child.

    • But you get it and spread it, jabbed or not jabbed. 95% of the population are jabbed, And the cost of this failed exercise is a big burden on the economy. Over 99% of corona cases are now in the jabbed and triple dosed people are dying. The jab is a failure, that is the problem. The gene tech doesn’t work, and there are studies that are showing that it destroys your immune system. Another jab gives a month’s protection at most and then you are more likely to be infected than someone who hasn’t had the jab. The only people I know who have had covid are jabbed. Strange that.
      We are stopping uninfected unjabbed people from working but sending infected jabbed people to work.
      Hilarious.

      • “The only people I know who have had covid are jabbed. Strange that.” It’s not particularly strange WR if you consider that the vast majority of the population is vaccinated.

        When you look a little deeper at deaths, a large majority are in the cohorts with near 100% vaccination.

        Omicron appears to be more vaccine evasive than Delta was – not unexpected with a new rapidly mutating virus. It’s effects on reducing disease severity are still demonstrably worth the expense of vaccinating the population when you look at the monetary costs of hospitalisation and ICU and the horrific emotional costs of deaths and an overrun health system.

        “ …there are studies that are showing that it destroys your immune system. Another jab gives a month’s protection at most and then you are more likely to be infected than someone who hasn’t had the jab.”
        Yeah – what peer reviewed paper indicated those conclusions?

        The way I see it, humanity and science is at war with this virus. In a war, if your enemy develops new weapons that outsmart yours you need to adjust and develop new ones. If those who know way more than me tell me the dosage needs adjusting I’m happy to take their advice. I‘ll do that any day in preference to taking the advice from the SM warriors on here who know SFA about the science (despite “doing their own research” and even less about statistical analysis.

  3. ‘Early signs out of the US, where more than five million doses have been given to 5–11-year-olds, suggest that the incidence of myocarditis and/or pericarditis following the Pfizer vaccine is even less in this age group.’
    Admitting these illnesses, which are a life long diseases, ARE taking place is the news we should be reporting. There is nothing good to get out of the vaccine for kids; there are long life diseases to be acquired like in a voluntary Russian roulette scheme. Chose carefully.
    68 kids (12-17) for every million vaccinated got the disease: for what? Are you the parent to give your kid myocarditis for life?

    • What you neglect to include RaFa is that the incidence of these conditions, rare though they are, are actually more common as a side effect of infection than they are of vaccination. Important to give balance.

      • “To give balance”?
        Do you mean “to hide the facts”?
        Do you mean “to disguise the incidence of the adverse effects of the vaccine”?
        “are actually more common as a side effect of infection” I dare you to bring up this evidence. You’ve just made this up Liz.

    • Excellent observation RaFalafel.
      Is there nothing left of wisdom or common knowledge..it’s gone! But for some.
      68 / 1mil. kids suffer ill effects from the vaccine. I assume this is a documented statistic. Therefore, this is proof all of us have the potential to have adverse reactions to it. If not now.. when? Assuming it is the same vaccine everyone gets. Some are affected greater or quicker than others. The fact that adverse reactions happen is warning enough that there are ingredients in these vaccines that are alien to the body and can cause damage to our health.. to the vital organs for example, nanoparticles..Look up ‘Harmful effects of nanoparticles’ You’ll find they are used extensively by pharma and now even some health foods supplements like vit C powders, tomato sauce and car paint etc. Nanoparticles are unregulated by any Govt. Not in the US and certainly not here in Aust. Nanoparticles are the tiniest active particles that can break into the cells within our bodies, they travel through the blood into very part of our body, into the vital organs, heart, liver, splene, the brain, they can manifest and over time, become toxic and cause disease to the body. According to studies made in the US. This is a great concern. As if we didn’t learn from all the mistakes made last century with all the use and inventions of hazardous materials but we just keep on keeping on!

  4. What’s going to happen to the kids in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.
    We all know Baby Boomers who got cancer repeatedly, decades after they got the SV-40 contaminated Polio vax

    • Funny, I don’t know any Chris and that’s my cohort. It’s a fair enough point but guess what, we don’t know what the post viral effects of infection with Covid 19 will be in 5, 10, 20, 30+ years later. Post viral syndromes are a known phenomenon, not least in post polio syndrome affecting said baby boomers today.

      The trouble is there is no way of knowing precisely how many baby boomers survived their childhood or were saved from the lingering effects of polio infection by the vaccines.

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