WHO urges countries to consider the benefits of vaccinating children against Covid-19, but prioritize sharing shots globally first

“Countries should consider the individual and population benefits of immunising children and adolescents in their specific epidemiological and social context when developing their COVID-19 immunisation policies and programs,” stated the assertion, printed Wednesday.

WHO has lengthy argued that older adults, individuals with power well being situations and well being staff must be prioritized for vaccines and that it’s “less urgent” to vaccinate children. The new assertion acknowledges that some countries which have already distributed vaccines to these prioritized teams, together with the United States, at the moment are rolling out vaccines to children.

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In addition to the US and most members of the European Union, different countries vaccinating children embrace Cuba, which was the first nation to vaccinate children as younger as 2 beginning in September, Chile, China, El Salvador and the United Arab Emirates.
“As a matter of global equity, as long as many parts of the world are facing extreme vaccine shortages, countries that have achieved high vaccine coverage in their high-risk populations should prioritize global sharing of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility before proceeding to vaccination of children and adolescents who are at low risk for severe disease,” WHO’s assertion stated. COVAX is WHO’s international vaccine sharing program.
“Given current global inequity in vaccine access, the decision to vaccinate adolescents and children must account for prioritization to fully protect the highest risk subgroups through primary vaccination series, and as vaccine effectiveness declines with time since vaccination, through booster doses,” the WHO assertion stated.

“As such, before considering implementing primary vaccination series in adolescents and children, attaining high coverage of primary series – and booster doses as needed based on evidence of waning and optimizing vaccination impact – in highest risk subgroups, such as older adults, must be considered.”

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A push to vaccinate the world

WHO has lengthy referred to as for international vaccine fairness.

In August, WHO pressed the 20 strongest world leaders and pharmaceutical chiefs to reverse “disgraceful” inequity in entry to vaccines by the fall.

WHO calls for world leaders and pharmaceutical chiefs to end 'disgraceful' global vaccine inequality
Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to WHO’s director-general and head of the ACT Accelerator Initiative, stated in an August social media Q&A that the world must be “disgusted” by the imbalance of accessible instruments to combat the pandemic. He appealed to the world’s wealthiest nations to deal with serving to all countries vaccinate 10% of their populations by September 2021.
That objective was not met, as “56 countries who were effectively excluded from the global vaccine marketplace were not able to reach the target of vaccinating 10% of their populations by the end of September — and most of them in Africa,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated in a information briefing final month.
Earlier in the pandemic, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) issued a “roadmap” on how to prioritize Covid-19 vaccine provide beginning with the most at-risk teams, an method that has been adopted by most countries.

“I think whether children get vaccinated or not will depend a lot on, firstly, how we are able to cover these other priority groups first, what the epidemiology of the disease is,” WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan stated Wednesday at a information briefing in Geneva.

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Millions of children worldwide missed routine vaccinations during the pandemic, study suggests

She added that more information is required on children to higher perceive how a lot pure an infection has occurred amongst their age group, one thing that may range nation by nation.

“Then when we get to the goals of reducing transmission, really down to very low levels, at that point, one might consider, of course, vaccinating children as well,” Swaminathan stated.

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“I think the guidance on children will be very contextual and specific to local context,” she stated. “But, we also need to then wait for more vaccines to have the data in children before we can make further recommendations.”

WHO notes in its new interim assertion that there are benefits to vaccinating children and adolescents that transcend direct well being benefits, together with that vaccinations may also help hold faculties safely open and reduce coronavirus transmission in different age teams, together with older adults.

WHO additionally states that it’s of “utmost importance” that children proceed to get their advisable childhood vaccinations for different infectious illnesses.

In information printed in July, WHO reported that 23 million children total missed out on primary routine immunizations final 12 months — which is 3.7 million greater than who missed out in 2019.

“Even as countries clamor to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis,” Tedros stated in the July announcement.

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“Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached.”

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