Children aged between five and 11 should get a Covid-19 jab only if there is a “high risk” of severe infection for them or for someone in their inner circle, Finland’s health watchdog has said.
Vaccination for all children aged between five and 11 cannot be recommended until there is more information available on the vaccination safety for this age group, including rare side effects, Finland’s Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said in a statement last week, adding that relevant government decrees should be amended before a general vaccination campaign for young children could be launched.
So far, only those facing an acute risk of severe infection or who have “severely immunocompromised people” within their inner circle should get a jab, the THL said. It added that a vaccination campaign for children could start early next year provided sufficient evidence for the jabs’ safety is there.
“The main reason THL does not recommend vaccinations now for all children aged 5 to 11 is their own low incidence of the disease. Infection in children of this age is usually mild and severe symptoms are very rare, compared to other diseases that have been prevented by vaccinations,” said Hanna Nohynek, THL’s chief physician.
The health watchdog believes that vaccination of children “does not significantly slow down the epidemic” in its current form. “If a society wants to influence the course of the epidemic by vaccinating children, and … benefits are small, safety information is even more important,” Nohynek explained.
In Finland, just about 5% of children aged between five and 11 were diagnosed with Covid-19 by the end of November 2021. Only 33 children have been treated in a hospital since the start of the pandemic, THL said, adding that treatment courses lasted just one or two days on average. All vaccinations, including those against Covid-19, are voluntary when it comes to children, it added.
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