Is FL right not recommending COVID vaccines for children?

Wilfredo Lee / AP

Fact Box

  • On March 8, 2022, the Florida Department of Health was the first of the states to recommend that healthy children aged 5-7 might not benefit from the COVID vaccine, but that children with underlying conditions are the best candidates. 
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by March 11, 2022, the number of coronavirus cases of children totaled 12.7 million. Of all cases, 0% to 0.25% were child deaths, with 3 states reporting none.
  • The CDC recommended that everyone aged 5 and up get the COVID vaccine as of January 11, 2022. 
  • Routine immunizations for children include 14 vaccines for vaccine-preventable diseases like Chickenpox, Hepatitis, Polio, and Tetanus.
  • Potential side effects of vaccines are well-known: fever, headache, dizziness, severe allergic reaction, and seizure. If a child has an allergic reaction to a certain vaccine, the primary care doctor will suspend the following dose.

Siam (No)

Florida's surgeon general recommended that children do not need vaccines. And this has created another major controversy between the proponents and opponents of the COVID vaccines. In reality, the surgeon general has made a major mistake. 

Firstly there is no credible literature or official consensus indicating the COVID pandemic is over. The Omicron variant is still alive and being transmitted in many communities, leading to severe symptoms and hospitalizations. Some data suggest that most of these infections occur in the unvaccinated, including young people and children. The latest data indicate that COVID cases spiked significantly in 2022 during the surge of the Omicron variant, affecting 4.8 million children. And during the first week of March, an additional 69,000 child COVID cases have been reported. And while only 1.3%-4.7% of the children need hospitalization, the problem is that these children transmit the infection to adults in schools, leading to sick staff who then require time off work. There is an acute shortage of staff due to the COVID crisis. Until everyone is vaccinated, things will not improve any time soon. 

While the Florida surgeon general says the vaccine can cause adverse effects on the heart like pericarditis and myocarditis, the case numbers in every study appear very low. The latest studies indicate that for every million people who get the vaccine, these side effects occur in 10-40 people, and death is rare. Every study agrees that the benefits of the covid vaccine far override not taking the vaccine. And worse, for those who do require admission for the covid infection, the cost of care can easily range between $20K to $80K. Finally, and perhaps what's worse, such sentiments expressed nationally may discourage adults from getting vaccinated.

Curtice (Yes)

Let's start with some basic facts. The risk of COVID infection among children has been extremely low since the onset of the pandemic, and the number of deaths among children is lower than from the flu. The total number of deaths in the United States for ages 0-17 from COVID through early March was 865. That represents 0.0009% of all US COVID deaths. That is about the same as the number of deaths in the same age group (858) from the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 flu seasons combined. One must remember the average flu season lasts approximately four months, while the pandemic has been ongoing for 26 months.

Add to that the fact that COVID is now waning; there is far less urgency for risking any side effects among children for any presumed benefits. Many countries, including most states and municipalities in the United States, have already ended most COVID restrictions.

Some countries, such as Sweden, have also not recommended vaccines for children, as they have concerns about the risks outweighing the benefits. Long-term side effects, particularly for children, are unknown as no long-term tests were done prior to hastily rolling out these vaccines. What is known as of now is that through February 25th, there were 11.289 reports of pericarditis/myocarditis this year, including many adolescent males and young adults. For all of 2021, there were 24,177 total reported. At this rate, the 2022 total will be three times that of 2021. It seems plausible that vaccines can negatively affect the heart, something the CDC does, in fact, acknowledge.

That should give pause to anyone pushing COVID vaccines for children with still-developing hearts. Florida is right to recommend against COVID vaccines for healthy children.

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