Children do not need COVID vaccine to go back to school, give the vaccine to adults instead: WHO expert
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) top vaccine expert said children do not need COVID-19 vaccine to go back to school during a social media session Thursday.
Dr. Kate O’Brien said children should not be the focus when it comes to doses, even as wealthy countries begin to approve the use of vaccines for children and adolescents.
Speaking during a digital conference on May 14, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged wealthier countries to refrain from vaccinating children and adolescents and instead donate the unused vaccines to lower-income countries, the BBC reported.
“In low- and lower-middle-income countries, the stockpile of COVID-19 vaccine has not even been enough to immunize health workers, and hospitals are flooded with people in desperate need of life-saving care,” he said.
O’Brien said WHO does not consider immunizing children against COVID-19 a high priority right now because there is a global vaccine shortage and adults in other countries need the vaccine more urgently than children, who are at lower risk.
More Associated Press reports can be found below:
“Children have a very, very low risk of actually getting COVID,” said O’Brien, a pediatrician and head of the WHO’s vaccine department. She said the rationale for immunizing children is to stop transmission rather than protect them from getting sick or dying.
“When we’re in this really difficult situation like we’re in right now, where vaccine supplies are inadequate for everyone in the world, vaccinating children is not a high priority right now.”
O’Brien said it is critical to ensure that health care workers and the elderly or those with underlying diseases are vaccinated before teens and children.
Canada, the United States and the European Union have all recently given the green light to some COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 12 to 15 as they approach their adult vaccination targets.
Less than 1 percent of COVID-19 vaccines administered worldwide have been used in poor countries.
O’Brien said it might make sense to immunize children against coronavirus “in due course, when the supply is much greater.” She added that it is not necessary to vaccinate children before sending them back to school, as long as the adults in contact with them are vaccinated. This is a brief summary.