Should I have my child vaccinated against Corona now?

The number of infections is increasing again, and a new wave can be expected in the autumn. According to the new infection protection law, which comes into force in October, there should be no more school closures. Good news, because the psychosocial effects of homeschooling and lockdown on children and parents have been far from positive. The new rules provide at best a mask requirement for students from fifth grade. So does vaccination for children make sense, especially with regard to autumn?

Stiko recommends corona vaccination for children aged five and over

Although there is no approved vaccine for children under the age of four, children over the age of five can. The Standing Vaccination Committee (Stiko) therefore recommends a corona vaccination for this age group. So that’s enough

  • healthy children from five to eleven years one dose out.
  • According to Stiko, only children in this age group who have contact with risk groups should vaccinate twice to let.

children in this age group an increased risk of a serious course of Covid-19 due to previous illness, Stiko currently recommends:

  • a basic immunization consisting of two vaccinations like two booster shots.
  • For children and young people aged 12 to 17, Stiko recommends two doses of vaccine plus a booster vaccination.

She only recommends an extra booster for children over the age of five if they are at risk of a serious course due to previous illnesses. This recommendation must also be extended to include the new Omikron booster vaccines, which are only approved for children over 12 years of age.

Low vaccination rate for children in Germany

So far, however, the vaccination offer for children in Germany has not met with a great response. In the five-to-eleven age group, which includes 5.3 million children, the vaccination rate is just 20.2 percent, according to the federal Department of Health’s vaccination dashboard. In the age group from 12 to 17 years, to which 4.5 million people belong, the vaccination rate is significantly higher: Here, 69 percent have a basic immunization, and 31 percent have already been boosted once.

Corona infections in children are mostly mild – especially with Omikron

According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), a corona infection in children and young people is usually mild or even without symptoms. Even so, serious courses are possible – especially if risk factors such as obesity or previous diseases such as asthma and diabetes are present. In rare cases, there is also a risk of children and young people developing the PIMS syndrome. This is a serious multisystem inflammatory reaction in the body that can be fatal if left untreated.

With Omikron, however, these dangers have been significantly reduced. According to the BZgA, fewer children had to be treated in hospital than with the previous variants, and the length of stay was overall shorter.

Mostly pre-sick and unvaccinated children hospitalized with Corona

This is also confirmed by Jörg Dötsch, Director of the Clinic for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the University Hospital in Cologne and Chairman of the German Society for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: “Fortunately, the disease burden on children under Omikron is extremely low,” he told Zeit.de. Although there there have also been hospital cases of omicrons, especially in babies whose narrow airways quickly swell as a result of the infection, this is also the case with other viruses and can be treated well, Dötsch continues.

Pediatric infectious disease doctor Robin Koppe from the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) confirms something similar. The children who had to be treated at the hospital were mostly pre-sick children under the age of five or older children who had not been vaccinated, he tells Zeit.de. Fewer children ended up in intensive care units through Omikron than through Delta.

Omicron made Pim’s syndrome less frequent

This was also confirmed by data from the Divi intensive register. According to this, there are currently 23 Covid 19 cases in the intensive care unit in Germany in the age group 0 to 17 years. With an infection rate of over 33,000 cases on a 7-day average, that’s not many. For comparison: In the age group from 60 there are over 250 cases, in the age group from 70 over 290 cases. The number of affected children is therefore small.

The PIMS cases among infected children were also reduced by Omikron. This is now also confirmed by a number of international studies. However, the virus should not be underestimated: According to Kobbe, there was also a healthy 12-year-old child in his ward who got a myocarditis due to the omicron infection, which was quite critical, he said.

Pediatric infectious disease doctor Kobbe: Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of disease

For this reason, the doctor recommends that children be vaccinated. “Although the risk of a serious course for children under omicron has decreased: vaccinations can significantly reduce it again,” Kobbe continues to tell “Zeit.de”.

According to a Singapore study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one dose of vaccine in this age group reduces the risk of hospitalization by 42 percent and a double dose by 83 percent.

Experts also believe that vaccinations reduce the long-term Covid risk in children, because they can also still suffer from symptoms for weeks after the acute infection. However, there are no exact case numbers.

Pediatrician Terhardt: Previously infected children should also be vaccinated

Pediatrician Martin Terhardt, who is also a Stiko member, recommends vaccination even for children who have already had an omicron infection. “We continue to assume that a one-time infection with Omikron does not leave any lasting and broad immunity against other variants,” he said in an interview with “Zeit.de”.

An additional vaccination could improve this immunity. It is important right now in light of autumn. However, more vaccinations according to the Stiko recommendation are particularly important for those who have previously been ill.

Infectious disease specialist Kobbe also advises healthy children to receive triple vaccination

Contrary to Stiko’s recommendation, Kobbe even advises children in the age group of 5 to 11 years without previous illness to get a triple vaccination instead of the recommended single vaccination. “I would also advise parents of healthy children to have them vaccinated a total of three times,” Kobbe continues on “Zeit.de”. This is especially important for young people who have not yet had an infection – as well as for children whose infection is a long time ago.

Off-label vaccination is not recommended for children under the age of five

An approved vaccine for children under the age of five may also soon be available in the EU. The European Medicines Agency EMA is already testing vaccines for this age group. However, many paediatricians are critical of off-label vaccination of children under the age of five, i.e. vaccination without approval, as some doctors do. Dötsch also advises “Zeit.de” to wait for approval from the EMA.

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