videoAs of today, parents of 1.3 million children aged 5 to 11 will receive a letter about the coronavirus vaccination. They can decide for themselves whether their children will be vaccinated. Experts in the pros and cons.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Nijmegen Mayor Hubert Prols, who is also president of the Club of Security Zones, joked: “We are deteriorating a little bit. In fact, we have employed 17 million virologists since the outbreak of the virus.” He was referring to all the Dutch who are taking part in the pandemic debate. . For parents of 5- to 11-year-olds, this statement is now a reality. After all, they can decide for themselves whether their children will be vaccinated or not. Suddenly they are sitting on the chair of a virologist.
“It’s very complicated for parents,” says Leakey Sanders, MD, an infectious disease doctor/immunologist, of the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Together with Susan van den Hove, head of the Center for Epidemiology and Infectious Disease Control, it provides an explanation to facilitate selection.
“Children rarely need to be hospitalized with coronavirus,” van den Hoof explains. Of all the nearly 80,000 hospital admissions in 2021, only 143, or 0.2%, were children of primary school age. This is very rare for 1.3 million children of that age.
And how sick are you actually from the new dominant variant omikron? The head of the epidemiology department continues: “The risk of serious illness is likely to be lower for children with the omicron than for the delta variant.” “The number of admissions is about two-thirds lower with Omicron.”
Wow for the good news. “The number of hospital admissions does not increase with the use of Omicron,” van den Hoof warns. “This is because omicron can spread very well because it evades immunity.” “The unvaccinated children ended up in the hospital there,” she says.
There does not appear to be an increase in the Netherlands. Pediatric pulmonologist Susan Terjen Lagro of Emma Children’s Hospital, part of UMC Amsterdam, recently announced that there has not been a significant increase in the number of children admitted due to the coronavirus.
Then experts warned of another important point parents should keep in mind: a serious inflammatory disease called MIS-C. It stands for Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome. Dutch Jenny Delgado Muti is one of the Dutch children who gave birth to it and according to her, more attention should be paid to her. Because weeks after infection with corona, a high fever can appear suddenly, and often also abdominal complaints, such as vomiting and diarrhea. In half of these children, this is so serious that they end up in intensive care. The Board of Health estimates that MIS-C occurs in about 150 children ages 0-19. This has not yet led to the death of children in the Netherlands, but it is very dangerous. “Preliminary studies suggest that vaccination can prevent MIS-C,” Sanders said.
And what about the side effects? According to experts, these symptoms are mild, “mainly related to pain at the puncture site,” Sanders says. “Our biggest concern is myocarditis,” an inflammation of the heart muscle. Early results, based on 8.6 million shots in American children aged 5 to 11, suggest that this is less common in young children than in adolescents. On average, two girls and 4.3 boys experienced this for every million children. Sanders: “And the myocarditis that was reported was mild and resolved quickly.”
Another argument that experts make in favor of vaccination is to protect others. “If you have very vulnerable people in your family, it will be beneficial because the chance of transmitting the virus to this vulnerable family member will be less,” van den Hoof continues. “The risk of infection is about two-thirds lower in the first months after vaccinations, which is quite a lot. So you probably also do it to protect grandfather or grandmother.”
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