Considerations for vaccinating children 5-11 years old
On 1 December, ECDC published Interim Public Health Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccination of Children following EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) recommendation from 25 November to grant an extension of indication for the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, to include use in children aged 5 to 11 years.
The ECDC report concludes that children aged 5-11 years who are at risk of severe COVID-19 should be considered a priority group for vaccination against COVID-19, as in other age groups.
Hospitalisation rates and the proportion of hospitalised cases with COVID-19 in children aged 5 to 11 years have increased, in line with cases in other age groups, but remain at much lower levels in children than in adults.
Children with no known risk factors are also susceptible to severe disease and hospitalisation, so consideration could be given to the vaccination of all children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old, taking into account the SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology at the national level.
For virus transmission at community level, the impact of vaccination for children is expected to be weaker for countries with a low vaccination rate in adults and stronger for countries with high rate among adults.
Vaccinating children cannot be considered a substitute for vaccinating adults. Increasing the vaccination rate in the eligible adult population remains the main priority of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns seeking to reduce COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality.
The potential opportunities offered by vaccinating children should be considered in the context of the overall vaccine uptake levels and epidemiological situation in a particular region/where such vaccination is implemented. Aspects around implementation and health equity should also be considered.