In the recommendations of the DGKJ / DGPI supported by the BVKJ, children should be given perspectives. Relaxing infection control measures should also be applied to children.
The peak of the omicron wave has passed in most federal states. At the Prime Ministers’ Conference on February 16, 2022, the federal and state governments agreed to limit state infection control measures. Children and youth in particular have experienced changes during the pandemic and associated interventions in their social participation. In its seventh statement, the federal government’s Council of Experts explicitly warned that the best interests of the child should be prioritized during the pandemic. Measures for children and young people should be at least as relaxed as in the general social framework.
The goal now is protection directed primarily against severe disease progression, no longer protection against every infection. This particularly affects vulnerable groups with risk factors that are now well identified. Children and young adults are included only in very rare exceptional cases.
Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 greatly contributes to preventing severe cycles of COVID-19 infection. However, it cannot reliably prevent every infection.
We expressly support STIKO’s vaccination recommendations. We advocate for vaccinations especially in the children’s environment. The benefit of vaccination is obvious, and serious complications are extremely rare, even in the age group of children and adolescents. Vaccination of all adults also protects children under the age of five, for whom an approved vaccine is not yet available. In the 5-11 year age group, basic immunization with two vaccines is equivalent to full protection from vaccination.
Wearing a medical mouth and nose guard (MNS) or, in special cases, also an FFP-2 mask plays a key role among the measures used to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In addition to other hygiene measures, wearing MNS also reduces the risk of infection in schools. Similar to the AWMF guidelines “Measures for the prevention and control of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools,” we recommend the wearing of MNS when attending secondary schools, depending on the infection process and general rules that also apply outside school in particular in situations, it is also recommended to wear a mask, but not It should be mandatory. Mask breaks should be allowed, and physical education classes should take place without masks. We refer here to our updated information. Young children should be regularly excluded from wearing masks. Between waves of infection, when the burden of disease on children is low, for example as measured by hospitalization rates, masks should not be worn in educational institutions. Wearing medical MNS should not depend on vaccination, recovery status, or performance of SARS-CoV-2 tests without reason.
SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Tests / PCR Pool Tests
The age group that has been consistently monitored in the past, ie without cause, with rapid antigen tests or PCR pool tests are children and young adults in day care centers and schools, some having daily testing. This has had far-reaching consequences beyond what was requested and implemented outside of school operations. For example, if the test results were positive, isolation and quarantine procedures were initiated, which were maintained at least until confirmation/non-confirmation by PCR testing.
Unexplained antigen tests with subsequent PCR tests if a positive result is meaningless due to high pre-analytical errors, and test results are unreliable, especially in younger children. Experience has shown that even if a PCR test is performed later, the evaluation and transmission of information are greatly delayed.
PCR pool tests are also not useful in the case of high incidence, because they result in a high percentage of single PCR tests, which are currently not available in sufficient numbers, linking resources unnecessarily and also allowing only identification of affected subjects with a certain amount of latency.
Therefore, rapid antigen/PCR pool tests should be discontinued with immediate effect. If symptoms of COVID-19, on the other hand, should be used, rapid antigen tests should be used, as well as if children, adolescents or parents wish to do so, for example, if there is a person with risk factors (illness or poor response to vaccination) in the same household .
If the test result is negative but symptoms persist, this can be repeated daily if necessary. Home isolation and confirmation testing with PCR should only be performed if the antigen test is positive.
In the case of daycare and school children, quarantine should not necessarily be requested if they come into contact with a child in a daycare group or school class with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. They should be given the opportunity to remain in the facility. Their infection status can be checked with sufficient certainty by antigen testing (or PCR) in the days following contact.
Recommendations from DGKJ, DGPI and BVKJ in PDF format for download