At the start of the pandemic there were myths promulgated that children did not spread covid as easily as adults and that if they did it was not a serious disease.
These ideas, though demonstrably wrong, are having a hang over in the discussion around priority for vaccine, and who needs to be protected before we allow community spread to occur without interventions to suppress it, such as lockdowns.
We published an opinion in MJA insight to point out that
– 0.1% of children die
– 7% get long covid
– 42% still have disabling symptoms at 4 months after infection.
As a misguided push from some quarters to “open up” to “save the economy” gathers pace in the UK and is floated by some in Australia, the AMA WA Council has asserted that it supports state and federal government policies that keep community transmission of covid as close as possible to zero at least until there are both
a) very high rates of over 16 vaccination (greater than 80%) with approved vaccines and
b) urgent investigations into evidence-based vaccination (with TGA & ATAGI approval) for those under 16, due to the adverse effects of covid on the paediatric population and their potential for transmission.
We must vaccinate children
– to increase the chance of getting to herd immunity to protect the whole community
– to protect their teachers and family
– to protect them from disease, death and long term disability
There are no approved vaccines for under 16 in Australia yet but Pfizer have applied to the TGA for use down to 12 years, and studies are ongoing overseas into 2 to 12 years for safety and efficacy.
This is an interview on this topic I did on The Today Show on Channel 9 in Australia recently: