“I don’t think children should be vaccinated for COVID. I’m a huge fan of vaccinating children for measles, for mumps, for polio, for rotavirus and many other diseases, that’s critical. But COVID is not a huge threat to children,” Martin Kulldorff told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders Program.”
“They can be infected, just like they can get the common cold, but they’re not a big threat. They don’t die from this, except in very rare circumstances. So if you want to talk about protecting children or keeping children safe, I think we can talk about traffic accidents, for example, which they are really at some risk.”
Instead of getting support from medical experts, vaccinating healthy young people – particularly children – has triggered more opposition, in part because of how small the risk COVID-19 poses to them.
Flu poses more risks to children than COVID-19
Kulldorf said children are more likely to contract serious disease or die from the flu than from COVID-19. Just 195 children under the age of four and 442 between five and 18 have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Oct. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Children are 15 times less likely to be hospitalized with the disease than individuals who are 85 or older, and 570 times less likely to die.
The professor cited what happened in Sweden as an example.
“During the first wave in the spring of 2020, which affected Sweden quite strongly, the country decided to keep daycare and schools open for all children ages 1 to 15. And there are 1.8 million such children who got through the first wave without vaccines, of course, without masks, without any sort of distancing in schools,” Kulldorff said.
“If a child was sick, they were told to stay home. But that was basically it. And you know how many of those 1.8 million children died from COVID? Zero. Only a few hospitalizations. So this is not a risky disease for children.”
Risks outweigh benefits of COVID-19 vaccine for children
Kulldorf noted that the risk of vaccine side effects to children must also be taken into account.
The main risk to young people seen so far is heart inflammation, which has occurred post-vaccination at much higher than expected rates. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a warning label to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the summer about myocarditis and pericarditis, two types of heart inflammation.
“If you’re 78 years old, then it’s the no-brainer, in my view, because the benefits are so great that even if you have a small risk for some adverse reaction, the benefit far outweighs the risk,” Kulldorff said.
“On the other hand, if you already have immunity from having had COVID, then the benefits of the vaccines are much, much smaller. If you’re a child, even if you haven’t had COVID, the risk of serious disease or death is minuscule. So it’s not at all clear that the benefits outweigh the risks for children.”
Still, members of the FDA advisory panel advised the agency to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between 5 and 11. They said the benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as the predicted decrease in hospitalizations, outweighed the risks – including estimated incidence of myocarditis.