Professor Nigel Curtis, from the Murdoch Children’s Association, has warned that those under the age of 11 must not be given a Covid vaccine until more data becomes available. Professor Curtis also remarked that, as the virus poses little to no risk to young children, the safety threshold for the vaccine has to be much higher than it is for older age groups. The Mail Australia has more.
On Tuesday the U.S. approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 years-old after a study of 3,100 kids detected no serious side effects and found it was 90.7% effective in preventing Covid infection.
Pfizer has started an application process to get its vaccine authorised for children in Australia, but Professor Nigel Curtis from the Murdoch Children’s Association believes bigger trials are needed first.
Professor Curtis said children are much less likely to suffer severe disease than adults so the safety threshold for the vaccines should be set much higher.
“I’m a strong proponent of vaccine in general but when we decide on the use of any vaccine we always have to weigh up potential benefits and potential risks”, he told ABC radio host Virginia Trioli on Friday morning.
“That balance is much more difficult than it is in older age groups and the main reason is that in this age group, even with the Delta variant, Covid remains a very mild or even asymptomatic disease in the vast majority of children”.
Australian data from the first seven months of 2021 showed 2.5% of children under nine who caught Covid needed hospital treatment, compared with 7.7% of adults in their 20s and 19.2% of adults in their 50s.
Professor Curtis said vaccinating under 12s was “still an open scientific question” and “we need more data on the relative benefits and potential harms”.
“The bar for using a vaccine for a disease which is extremely mild and which very few children come to any harm is much higher”, he said.
The children’s doctor said U.S. trials had involved “a very small number of children when it comes to assessing rare side effects” and “you need much larger numbers before you can be certain”.
Phase three of Pfizer’s vaccine trial for adults in November 2020 enrolled 43,661 participants, while AstraZeneca’s safety data was based on 20,000 adults enrolled across four clinical trials.
“Children are not little adults and they have a very different immune system. They have a very strong immune system when it comes to Covid and they respond very differently to adults”, Professor Curtis said.
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