RIVM hopes to lower winter Covid infections by vaccinating children 12 and older
Vaccinating children against Covid-19 will help control the coronavirus during the winter season, the RIVM has calculated, according to NOS.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds on Friday. In the Netherlands, there are around 800 thousand adolescents within this age group. The vaccine had already been approved for people aged 16 and above, earlier this year.
“If all goes well, the reproduction number could be just under 1”, director of the Center for the Infectious Disease Control at the RIVM, Jacco Wallinga said, referring to the upcoming winter season. The reproduction number refers to the number of people a person who contracted the coronavirus will infect.
If children aged 12 and older will also have the opportunity to receive Covid-19 vaccines the reproduction number could drop down to 0.85, according to RIVM models. Should the vaccination rate coverage amongst the population aged 12 and older reach 75 percent then the reproduction number can drop down to 0.7, the RIVM predicted.
The models on the RIVM are based on the scenario that no further coronavirus mutations besides the British, South African and Brazilian variant will gain ground in the Netherlands. Current vaccines may be ineffective with new variants.
The Cabinet has stated they are waiting for the advice of the Health Council before they permit vaccination for 12- to 17-year-olds.
"We also have to see whether it is still necessary for group immunity”, health minister, Hugo de Jonge said during a press conference on Friday. "I expect that we will make a decision on this before the summer." A possible scenario could also be that only 12- to 17-year-olds with a medical pre-condition will receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
Chairman of the Dutch Association for Pediatrics, Karoly Illy said it is necessary to “vaccinate as many people as possible in society so that as few people as possible get sick and we get rid of the virus and restrictions quickly.”
Pediatrician and epidemiologist, Patricia Bruijning was slightly more cautious about the approach. “We have to see how the virus develops. If it resurfaces, it may be that children need to be vaccinated to get the virus under control.”
In the United States and Canada, children have already been allowed to receive the jab since May. Germany will make minors eligible for the shot starting June 7.