Israelis should vaccinate their children against COVID-19 – editorial

Should Israelis vaccinate their young children against the crown? It is a difficult decision as the numbers appear low at the moment, due to the lower infection rate, as Israel appears to be at the end of its fourth wave.

The decision Wednesday night by the Pandemic Response Team and the Vaccine Advisory Committee to approve the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 came at an important time in the evolution of the pandemic. While young children usually don’t get a severe case of the virus, they can pass it on to other people.

Seventy-three of the 75 health experts voted in a secret ballot in favor of approval and 57 supported vaccinating children who have recovered from the virus. Still, most experts admit that it will not be easy to convince parents to vaccinate their children.

According to the committee’s decision, children ages 5 to 11 will soon be eligible for doses of the corona vaccine for children, as the first shipments are expected to arrive in Israel next week.

The move came just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed the vaccine for the 5- to 11-year-old age group, and after a Pfizer study of 2,268 children found that the vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID infections. Based on a study of 3,100 vaccinated children, the FDA concluded that the vaccines are safe. US officials estimated that one million American children ages 5 to 11 have already received injections since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was licensed last week.

Empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11 are seen in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA, on November 6, 2021. (Credit: REUTERS / HANNAH BEIER)

Since June, Pfizer injections have already been recommended in Israel for anyone 12 years of age or older. The decision requires the approval of the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Nachman Ash, before it goes into effect.

Upon approval, the public health system will launch a nationwide vaccination campaign. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that once the campaign begins, the ministry will make all necessary arrangements with the country’s four health funds in cooperation with the IDF Home Front Command.

“We will make all information accessible to parents and each parent will make their own decisions regarding their children,” Horowitz said, emphasizing that there will be no coercion. “We are not imposing it on anyone and we are not demanding it on anyone. We are explaining how good and important it is. “

Prof. Salman Zarka, Crown Tsar, said: “In the first stage, we will give priority to health funds because we assume that at these ages, parents will want to get more involved and come with their children to clinics to receive vaccines. . . In any case, there will be no limitations ”.

Dr. Tal Brosh, head of the Health Ministry’s epidemic team, said the ministry seeks “to administer the injections in the short period of time of three weeks, just as we did with adults, because it creates immunity faster.”

Brosh said the team will discuss at their next meeting whether there are reasons to increase the time between takes.

“It’s a complex issue,” Brosh said. “The relevant data is not yet satisfactory and the last word has not yet been said on the matter.”

The Ministry of Health’s vaccination campaign and the Green Pass system have met with some public resistance. At the request of the committee members themselves, Wednesday night’s deliberations and the committee’s vote on vaccinating children were not broadcast to the public due to concerns about public reaction.

However, the Israel Pediatric Association issued a position paper last week endorsing the vaccination of children older than 5 years. According to the document, from the start of the pandemic in Israel until last month, 398 children were hospitalized in moderate, severe or critical condition due to COVID. The Pfizer study shows that vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 “has an excellent safety profile,” the document states.

We can only agree and urge parents to go ahead and vaccinate their children once the campaign starts. If we want to avoid a fifth wave, it is essential that as many people as possible are vaccinated, from young children to the elderly.

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