Children as young as five years old have begun receiving COVID-19 vaccines in Israel. The government’s vaccination push comes as the threat of a new wave of infections looms over the country. Kids between five and 11 are being injected with the Pfizer vaccine. Over 62 percent of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated as of Nov. 23.
Beginning in June, Israel suffered the fourth wave of infection that started subsiding in September. But in recent weeks, the virus reproduction rate has shown signs of moving up, indicating a potential fifth wave hitting soon. The effective reproduction rate of COVID-19 has risen from 0.61 on Oct. 20 to 0.86 on Nov. 21.
Half of the confirmed cases in the country are said to be among kids younger than 11 years old. Out of the 9.4 million people living in Israel, children between the ages of five and 11 make up around 1.2 million. One in 3,400 kids who will contract COVID-19 is expected to develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition in which some parts of the body become susceptible to inflammation. Roughly one to two percent of kids who develop MIS-C end up dying.
In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned about a “children’s wave” of infections.
“I call on all Israeli parents to come and have their children vaccinated. It is safe and it safeguards our children… It is important to get vaccinated so that children don’t get sick with corona and so that they won’t infect their parents,” the prime minister said, as he took his nine-year-old son to receive a jab.
Parents have mixed opinions about whether they intend to vaccinate their children or not. A recent poll conducted by Maccabi, a healthcare provider in Israel, found that only 41 percent of the parents of kids aged between five and 11 were interested in getting their children inoculated. Thirty-eight percent were adamant that they would not vaccinate their children while 21 percent were undecided.
“The kids go to school, they (mix) with (other) kids, and they are doing a lot of social activities. We are very excited (to) vaccinate them and get (back) to normal life,” Katy Bai Shalom, a mother of two children who recently got vaccinated, told Reuters.
Vaccinating children is a controversial topic since many have put forward strong arguments against it. According to statistician William Briggs, 524 kids have died in the U.S. due to COVID-19 between Jan. 2020 and Oct. 22, 2021.
Given that the population of the demographic is 73 million, the COVID-19 fatality rate among kids is just 0.000007. During the same period, 1,043 kids below the age of 17 died of pneumonia and 5,250 kids are estimated to have died from car crashes.
A report published in Nature magazine on Aug. 18 states that children tend to be more immune to the COVID-19 virus due to “pre-activated antiviral innate immunity in the upper airways.”
“Primed virus sensing and a pre-activated innate immune response in children leads to efficient early production of IFNs in the infected airways, likely mediating substantial antiviral effects mirroring those observed in vitro in IFN-(pre)treated cells. Ultimately, this may lead to reduced virus replication and faster clearance in children. In fact, several studies already showed that children are much quicker in eliminating SARS-CoV-2 compared to adults, consistent with the concept that they shut down viral replication earlier,” the report states.