The number of infections is rising again, and a new wave can be expected in the fall. According to the new Infection Protection Act, which will take effect in October, there should be no more school closures. Good news, because the psychological and social effects of homeschooling and closure on children and parents are far from positive. At best, the new rules stipulate mask requirements for students from the fifth grade. So does vaccinating children make sense, especially in relation to fall?
Stiko recommends vaccination against corona for children from the age of five
Although there is no approved vaccine available for children under the age of four, children over five years old can. That is why the Standing Committee on Immunization (Stiko) recommends vaccinating against corona in this age group. its enough
- Healthy children from five to eleven years of age 1 dose Outside.
- It should only be children in this age group who come into contact with high-risk groups, according to Steko vaccinated twice to let go.
Children in this age group Increased risk of severe course of Covid-19 Because of past illnesses, Stiko currently recommends:
- Basic immunization consisting of two vaccinations Such as 2 shots booster.
- For children and teens 12 to 17 years old, Stiko recommends two doses of the vaccine in addition to a booster vaccine.
She only recommends a second booster dose for children over the age of five if they are at high risk of severe circulatory disease due to pre-existing illnesses. This recommendation will also be extended to the new Omikron booster vaccines, which are only approved for children over 12 years of age.
Low vaccination rate for children in Germany
However, the vaccination offer for children in Germany has not received much response so far. In the 5- to 11-year-old group, which includes 5.3 million children, the vaccination rate is just 20.2 percent according to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Immunization Information Panel. In the 12-17 age group, to which 4.5 million people belong, the vaccination rate is significantly higher: here, 69 percent have a basic immunization and 31 percent have already been boosted once.
Corona injuries in children are often mild – especially with Omicron
According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), corona infection in children and adolescents is usually mild or even without any symptoms. However, acute courses are possible – especially if risk factors such as obesity or previous illnesses such as asthma and diabetes are present. In rare cases, there is also a risk of children and adolescents developing PIMS. This is a severe, multi-system inflammatory reaction in the body that can be fatal if left untreated.
But with Omikron, these risks have been greatly reduced. According to the BZgA, there were fewer children treated in hospital than the previous variables, and the length of stay was generally shorter.
Most pre-ill and unvaccinated children are hospitalized with coronavirus
This was also confirmed by Jörg Deutsch, Director of the Clinic for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at the University Hospital Cologne and President of the German Society of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine: “Fortunately, the burden of disease for children under the Omicron system is very low,” he told Zeit.de. Of the cases in hospital with oomicrons, especially in children, whose narrow airways swell rapidly as a result of infection, this is also the case with other viruses and is well treatable, continues Dötsch.
Pediatric infectious disease scientist Robin Kobe of the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) confirms something similar. He told Zeit.de, the children who had to be treated in hospital were often pre-disease children under five or older than children who had not been vaccinated. The number of children who ended up in intensive care units through Omicron has decreased compared to Delta.
Omicron made Beams syndrome even rarer
This was also confirmed by data from the Divi Intensive Care Registry. Accordingly, there are currently 23 cases of Covid 19 in the intensive care unit in Germany in the age group from 0 to 17 years. With over 33,000 cases of infection averaging 7 days, that’s not a lot. For comparison: in the age group of 60 years there are more than 250 cases, in the age group from 70 to 290 cases. So the number of infected children is small.
The incidence of PIMS among children affected by Omikron has also been reduced. This has now been confirmed by a number of international studies. However, the virus should not be underestimated: According to Kobe, there was also a 12-year-old in his ward who developed myocarditis due to an omicron infection, which is critical, he said.
Cuban pediatrician: Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of contracting the disease
For this reason, the doctor recommends vaccinating children. “Even if the risk of an acute course of children under Omikron decreases: vaccinations can significantly reduce it again,” Kobe continues to tell Zeit.de.
According to a study in Singapore published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a single dose of the vaccine in this age group reduces the risk of hospitalization by 42 percent, and a double dose by 83 percent.
Experts also hypothesize that vaccines reduce the risk of prolonged COVID-19 infection in children, because they, too, still have symptoms for weeks after an acute infection. However, there are no exact case numbers.
Pediatrician Terhardt: Previously infected children should also be vaccinated
Pediatrician Martin Tierhardt, also a member of Stiko, recommends vaccination even for children who have already had an omicron infection. “We still assume that a one-time infection with omicron leaves no permanent and broad immunity to other variants,” he said in an interview with Zeit.de.
Additional vaccination can improve this immunity. This is important now in light of the fall. However, multiple vaccinations according to Stiko’s recommendation are especially important for those who have had the disease previously.
The Cuban infectious disease scientist also advises healthy children to get the triple vaccination
Contrary to Stiko’s recommendation, Kobbe recommends that children in the 5 to 11 age group without a pre-existing disease get the triple vaccine instead of the recommended single shot. “I also advise parents of healthy children to vaccinate them three times in total,” Kobe continues on Zeit.de. This is especially important for adolescents who have not yet been infected – as well as for children who have been infected for a long time.
Off-label vaccination is not recommended for children under five years of age
There may also be a vaccine approved for children under five in the European Union soon. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is already testing vaccines for this age group. However, many pediatricians are critical of the off-label vaccination of children under five, that is, vaccination without consent, as some doctors do. Dötsch also advises Zeit.de, pending EMA approval.