“You have to rejoice, of course you do.” The doctor’s spontaneous reaction Francisco Álvarez García, pediatrician and coordinator of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), makes the position of the sector very clear.
The first childhood vaccine against covid — from Pfizer — is here, for children between 5 and 11 years old, after the approval of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It will be a softened drug, with only a third of the load of a conventional dose, but it will have an identical schedule to that of the ‘adults’: two injections separated by an interval of three weeks.
Parents can rest assured, say the specialists consulted by The HuffPost. The Dr. Reyes López de Mesa, pediatrician at the University of Navarra Clinic, considers that “the benefits absolutely outweigh the risks”, which, he cites, are also very slight. And Álvarez García adds that the vaccine will be key for children to also recover their social life and help the country’s objective: to achieve the desired group immunity.
All are advantages for those in charge of taking care of the little ones, who see in the medicine the way to reduce an incidence shot up to 252 cases (the national average is 160). And they encourage parents to have no doubts.
Is the EMA’s decision correct?
“We have plenty of reasons to rejoice (laughs), says Álvarez García, who quotes the communiqué of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the AEP. “In it we indicate that there are many reasons to celebrate it. It will normalize the situation of children, at an epidemiological and social level, it will reduce the circulation of the virus and the appearance of possible variants … ”.
A postulate on which his colleague relies to ratify his “absolute yes” to the correctness of the Agency’s decision and which the European Commission must now ratify.
Should it have been approved before?
They both coincide. No, because “it has arrived when it had to arrive”, as Dr. López de Mesa expresses. For the pediatrician at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra, “before you had to do safety studies and in children they are always done after adults, so it was announced when it was known that it was safe.”
“The US or Israel have approved it before, yes, but shortly before,” adds the coordinator of vaccines of the AEP, happy for the pace of evolution of the development of antivirals.
I would tell parents who don’t believe in vaccines to go to hospitals or cemeteries.Dr. Reyes López de Mesa, pediatrician at the University of Navarra Clinic
Is the benefit greater than the risk?
Again, unanimously, and around the same adverb: “Absolutely.” Dr. López de Mesa focuses on the fact that “today all children are becoming infected, many asymptomatic or mild, but also with serious symptoms. And the vaccine has shown some side effects, but all mild, such as headaches or fevers and even episodes of myocarditis, although much milder than those suffered when infected.
Are there more risks of myocarditis in children when getting vaccinated?
In line with this heart ailment, pediatricians rule out that the vaccine is dangerous. The pediatrician insists that “mild cases have been seen with the vaccine, but when they arise from contagion they are more numerous and more serious”, leading to ICU admissions or deaths.
Even clearer is his colleague Álvarez García: “At this age we are calm. If the infection itself already generates few cases, then, now with a very slight dose (a third of a normal load), even less ”.
How can this vaccine influence the epidemic?
“If we start from the basis that 91% of the vaccinated population is needed to achieve herd immunity and the child population represents at least 10% … either we vaccinate them or there is no group immunity,” López responds immediately of Mesa.
“Indeed,” admits Álvarez García. “Without them there is no such group protection. But, beyond that, it will make them stop being the age group with the highest incidence and it will prevent them from getting sick and spreading the disease to the most vulnerable.
Beyond epidemiological issues, this vaccine can be key in the way of relating to children?
After the succession of confinements, school closings, limited contacts … the social factor plays a key role in one’s own health. This is what Dr. Francisco Álvarez García says, citing psychiatrists and psychologists: “They have been warning about it for a long time and many times it seems that we forget. The lack of interrelation between children, confinements, classes from home … are generating important psychological problems. With the vaccine it will be allowed to normalize the school and the interpersonal relationships of the children, with the consequent psycho-emotional well-being ”, he maintains.
“It can mean a return to normality post-pandemic, because we have to think that today it is impossible to control the infection in closed places,” adds the doctor. “At a psychosocial level it will be very important and at a family level as well, because this will give more security in their surroundings.”
The vaccine will allow the normalization of school and children’s interpersonal relationships, with the consequent psycho-emotional well-beingDoctor Francisco Álvarez García, coordinator of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Pediatric Association (AEP)
What would you say to parents who, even if they are vaccinated, are afraid to put it on their children?
Both want to convey security. In fact, the person in charge of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics clarifies that “it would not say, but it would give confidence”. “We have to go to scientific information, not to anything on the internet. If the technicians authorize it, it is for something. It is much worse to pass the disease than the mild side effects for 1-2 days. And although it is almost always with mild cases, why take the risk of catching the disease “.
For his partner, parents should bear in mind that the coronavirus is “a disease that we do not control and it behaves very differently in each case. Nobody can assure them that their children will have little more than a cold or severe myocarditis, but with the vaccine those symptoms will not be there, so I would tell them that it is worth it and we are seeing it ”.
What about parents who don’t believe in the vaccine?
The tone goes up. “Let them go through hospitals or cemeteries. It is very sad to continue denying what is seen on a daily basis and it is causing so much death. You cannot deny the efficacy of the vaccine when you compare Spain with neighboring countries, with less vaccination and much higher rates of hospitalization and death ”, Reyes López de Mesa states with notorious disappointment in the face of the denial that“ even today ”exists.
His colleague, Dr. Álvarez García, limits himself to pulling “data.” Thus, he cites the latest updated reports of affectation in children: “In children under 10 years of age there are 17 deaths and more than 180 admissions to the ICU during the pandemic. Is it worth asking later ‘why did I miss the vaccine opportunity’? ”, He asks rhetorically.
Can it be extended to other children, under 5 years of age?
This vaccine opens the range of protection to children, but it may not be the last step in the care of the little ones. The coordinator of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the AEP recognizes that there are already studies for its possible administration after six months. When? “Date cannot be given, but in 2022 the ongoing studies will already be published and the authorities will have to analyze the results,” he concludes.
Source: HuffPost Spain for Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.es.
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