China will soon start vaccinating children as young as three-years-old against COVID-19. The decision comes as the country is presently dealing with sporadic breakouts and has implemented strict restrictions in regions where new infections have been reported. Around 76 percent of China’s population is fully vaccinated.
Local governments of five Chinese provinces have issued notices stating that children between the ages of three and 11 are mandated to take COVID-19 shots. One of the government announcements stated that “all who should get vaccinated will get vaccinated.”
Some parents have raised concerns about the issue. In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Wang Lu, a mother of a three-year-old son, said that she was in no hurry to get the boy inoculated. “I’m just not very clear on the vaccine’s safety profile, so I don’t really want to get him vaccinated, at the very least, I don’t want to be the first,” Wang said.
There have also been reports of authorities silencing parents whose children died as a result of the vaccination. According to a report by The Epoch Times, a 12-year-old girl who was vaccinated on Aug. 10 ended up dead on Aug. 28.
Two days after the inoculation, the young girl suffered a high fever and several health complications. The mother of the child approached officials as she believed the girl died due to the vaccine. But rather than provide help, she was beaten up. On Oct. 16, police arrested the mother on charges of “provoking trouble and picking quarrels.”
Back in June, China had approved the domestically-developed Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines for children between three and 17 years of age. In August, another domestic vaccine was also approved for use on children.
However, these vaccines continue to be in clinical trials and there is no clarity on how much protection they offer against the Delta variant which is driving the latest wave of infections.
With China approving domestic vaccines for children, other countries using Chinese vaccines have also adopted a similar stance. In Argentina, Sinopharm is approved for three-year-olds and above.
In Chile, kids from the age of six are eligible to get a shot of Sinovac. Cambodia, which uses both Sinopharm and Sinovac, has approved the jabs for kids above the age of six.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering making kids from the age of five eligible for vaccination. An independent group of experts convened by the agency will soon discuss the matter. FDA has looked into an analysis submitted by Pfizer which showed that the company’s COVID-19 shot was 90.7 percent effective on children.
There are worries of vaccines potentially triggering heart inflammation or myocarditis in kids. However, scientists at the FDA still support the vaccine.
“My initial thought is that the benefits of vaccinating children five through 11 years outweigh the risks of myocarditis and other safety concerns that people may have,” Henry Bernstein, a pediatrician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, told AFP
Some have strongly criticized the plan to impose vaccines on children. Writing for The Defender, Toby Rogers, Ph.D., points out that none of the kids who participated in the Pfizer study had severe COVID-19 nor died due to the infection.
As such, any claim of 90 percent effectiveness in children is “meaningless” since such cases are likely to be mild infections from which kids typically recover quickly.