Is FDA right approving COVID vaccines for kids 5 and under?


Fact Box

  • On June 17, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration approved the COVID vaccine, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, for children aged six months. 
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by June 9, 2022, the number of coronavirus cases of children totaled 13.5 million. Of all cases, 0% to 0.32% were child deaths, with 1 state 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.

Amanda (Yes)

The FDA approval of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for use in children under the age of five is not only the right decision for public health, it's a decision that very likely should have been made even sooner. Anthony Fauci asserted the administration needed to slow the approval process to prevent confusion over competing vaccines with different timelines. But children already have a wide array of approved vaccination regimes from six months onward. Therefore, the concern over 'rushing' the much-needed COVID vaccine for children seems to have been an odd path to take in light of how other basic vaccination programs work.

However, regardless of the foot-dragging, this was simply the best decision to make under health considerations alone. While COVID-19 tends to affect older adults most acutely, children can still get sick or even die from the disease. Worldwide, at least 13,400 recorded COVID deaths of people under the age of 20 have occurred; 42% of such deaths were children under the age of nine. And we still don't know the full impact of Long COVID in the far-term for children who contract it. Preventing potential side effects from occurring even years after an initial diagnosis is well worth taking a vaccine shot to potentially stave off severe effects from the virus.

Beyond the individual effects, the more COVID-19 circulates, the more likely a strain will mutate, causing another spike in illness and death like those from the Omicron variant. Even if children don't display symptoms, they can still contract and spread the virus, increasing the chances for another variant to emerge. But through vaccination, we can lessen that possibility by preventing kids from contracting COVID-19 in the first place.

Elizabeth (No)

The CDC's approval of COVID vaccines for children under five years of age is unwise and arguably more dangerous than leaving children unvaccinated from the virus. Barring severely immuno-compromised children, kids are the demographic least likely to suffer serious cases of, or complications from, COVID-19. 

COVID has been politicized from the outset, including prominent Democrats decrying Trump's announcement his administration would deliver a vaccine to Americans before election day and has remained highly divisive. The ongoing valid argument regarding conflicts of interest for those involved in vaccine development and approval do nothing to quash fears. Vaccination should always be a matter of personal/familial choice, as many people have experienced vaccine injury in their medical history. It should not be a prerequisite for school attendance or the opportunity for social interaction, both of which are crucial for children's development.

While it was remarkable the COVID vaccines came about as quickly as they did, the fact remains there are no truly long-term studies on the effects of this novel mRNA vaccine technology. It's one thing to risk long-term effects from a vaccine on older and/or consenting adults. It's another thing entirely to subject virtually all children to these possible risks. 

Given that children suffer less severity with COVID as opposed to adults, the fact it's widely accepted now that COVID has become 'endemic' rather than 'pandemic' (meaning, it's more like a version of the flu that all of us will get from time to time) and the fact that each new variant is both less lethal and more contagious, children in particular need to be allowed to develop their own natural immunities rather than be forced into trial testing of a vaccine.

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