Not content to stop at convincing large segments of the world’s adult population to inject themselves with an experimental vaccine, Big Pharma is now trying to push COVID-19 shots on children. In a virtual symposium with Johns Hopkins University earlier this month, an executive from Pfizer said that the firm is hoping its experimental mRNA shot will be administered to children as young as five this fall. They have also said they want to release a COVID booster shot soon to offer additional protection against the delta variant of the virus, even as the CDC maintains that it is not necessary.
Although Pfizer may be eager to get its jabs into children’s arms, medical experts take the opposite view, urging caution when it comes to COVID injections for children. Earlier this month, a team of researchers and professors in fields such as medical ethics, law, pediatric immunity and infection, philosophy and palliative care medicine sent a letter to the BMJ outlining their concerns about the global push to give these shots to children. They believe that the rollout needs to be delayed because, in their words, “the net benefit of vaccinating children is unclear.”
They point out that only around 3,500 adolescents have participated in randomized trials of the shots, and those trials were not designed to uncover rare side effects.
They also cited the many cases of heart inflammation, such as myocarditis and pericarditis, that have been seen in adolescents who were given the injections. This has been occurring in roughly 56 to 69 cases per million doses, and it is serious enough to warrant additional investigation. On top of that, we have no way of knowing yet if other complications will emerge when the vaccine is administered to a larger segment of children.
Moreover, the authors say that the potential benefits of giving children the vaccine is a lot smaller than it is in adults because children have already shown to be less likely to contract COVID-19, and they are significantly less likely to become seriously ill with the virus. They have also been playing a very limited role in transmitting the virus to others, which means that injecting them would have what the authors term a “marginal benefit in protecting others.”
This team of experts emphasizes that they are not against vaccines overall and they do believe that the benefits outweigh the risks for adults. However, they do not want to see children getting the jab until there is more data about how it will affect them.
FDA expects to authorize COVID vaccines for kids under 12 this winter
On Thursday, FDA officials said that emergency authorization for vaccines for kids under 12 may come in early winter and that the agency hopes to move quickly toward getting full approval for the vaccine for children in this age group. Right now, they are still only authorized for people aged 12 and older, and none of the vaccines have been granted full FDA approval.
As pharmaceutical companies push forward with their campaigns to get children vaccinated, one can only hope that governments around the world will not take away parents’ freedom to choose whether or not their children take on the very real risks of these shots. For example, it is scary to think that some schools might require children to have the COVID-19 vaccine to attend classes. Right now, that would be difficult in the U.S. because the shot has not been officially approved by the FDA and is only being given under Emergency Use Authorization, but there are many parties have been pushing the FDA to grant a full approval precisely to avoid these types of protections and give more weight to mandates.