Dutch Health Council recommends allowing Covid vaccines for all young children
Healthy children aged 5 to 11 should also get the opportunity to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Health Council advised on Friday. It stated that children should not be forced or coerced into getting the jab. Parents who refuse a Covid-19 vaccination for their child should not lead to the child be excluded from school or other activities.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will have to decide if the ministry will adopt the Council's advice. There are about 1.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 living in the Netherlands. Roughly 40,000 of them are at a higher medical risk of serious disease from Covid-19, and were approved for the vaccination earlier this week.
In its letter to the Ministry of Health, the Council said the medical benefits of vaccination "are offset by relatively limited drawbacks." It added that side effects experienced by children had been mostly limited to "fatigue, headache, muscle aches or fever for a short time after vaccination. The risk of rare side effects, such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), is very low," the Council advised.
The Health Council said that vaccination could prevent the multi-organ inflammatory reaction some children have had to Covid-19. This condition is likely to affect 100 to 150 children not vaccinated against the coronavirus disease. "Vaccination also reduces the indirect health disadvantage that children experience as a result of the pandemic, for example, because they are limited in going to school, sports or social contacts."
The overall situation will be better for children when there is a reduced need to implement restrictive measures on society, which often have an impact on the lives of children. One way to reduce the need for such measures is to increase the vaccination rate of the entire population.
The European Medicines Agency has only granted approval of the two-shot Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at a reduced dosage with regard to vaccinating children between 5 and 11.