Ritz points to a recent CDC report on Covid-19 safety in adolescents aged 12 to 17, which followed up on 8.9 million US adolescents who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Their Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (Vaers) received 9,246 reports of adverse events following vaccination, a rate of one out of every thousand patients vaccinated. More than 90% of these adverse events were “non-serious” events like dizziness and headache. The remainder, or 9.3%, were for serious adverse events, including chest pain, vomiting, fever and myocarditis. “No reports of death to Vaers were determined to be the result of myocarditis,” the CDC report notes.
Yet the rise of the Delta variant has also prompted some researchers to change their position on vaccinating children.
“Given the rise of the Delta variant, it is now more urgent to vaccinate children 5 to 11 when those [clinical] trials are complete and the vaccine is shown to be safe and effective,” infectious diseases physician Monica Gandhi of the University of California, San Francisco, told the BBC in an email. Earlier this year, she had not seen the need to vaccinate that age group, but Delta had changed the picture: “With its higher transmissibility, I would favour vaccinating younger children to help protect those in the household and especially older adults.”
Green concurs. “I know that some people will say, ‘why should children get a vaccine that’s not going to help them individually and only going to help society?’ The answer is that children are not some kind of species that live outside of society. They are part of society. If their parents get ill, or their grandparents, or their neighbours, that affects them as well.”
For parents, it can be difficult to make a confident decision amid the slew of studies and statistics. But some simply feel relief – and a growing sense of hope.
“I would get my under-12s vaccinated in a hot second if I could,” says Gila Rose, a freelance writer and editor in the Israeli town of Modiin. She has an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old (both of whom are vaccinated) as well an 11-year-old and almost-seven-year-old twins. Rose cites the rise of the Delta variant, as well as repeated lockdowns and quarantines, as reasons for speeding up vaccinations of younger children.
School closures are taking their toll, as well. “Kids are really suffering,” she says. “It was one thing when we thought it would be a few months, or a year. But now we’re heading into our third messed-up school year.”
Rose has “no qualms” about vaccinating her younger children, seeing the jab as a “get out of quarantine free” card: “I will be first in line with my children. Maybe this is the thing that is finally needed, to turn the tide,” she says.
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