Parents’ dilemma: Should your child be vaccinated or not? These are the pros and cons now

Parents of nearly 1.3 million children ages 5 to 11 will receive a call for a COVID-19 vaccination starting Tuesday. They immediately face a dilemma: Should your child be vaccinated or not? They immediately face a dilemma: Should your child be vaccinated?

According to Sanders, children are just as susceptible to infection as adults, but the infection is often asymptomatic or mild for them. It also appears that less than 5 percent still have complaints (long-term Covid) after two or three months and that vaccination provides no guarantee against reinfection, the pediatrician says.

According to the RIVM, the most important reason to vaccinate your child is to prevent MIS-C, although this is rare. MIS-C stands for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome – Children. This serious inflammatory disease, which causes inflammation in the blood vessels, among other things, occurs most often in the eight to ten-year-olds with corona infection. RIVM stresses that the disease is very rare and treatable. MIS-C usually develops two to six weeks after infection with corona.

It is estimated that complications occur in about one in four thousand infections, but this was investigated when the delta type of coronavirus was still widespread. It is not known what effect the omikron variator has. The risk of contracting MIS-C was the main reason the Board of Health recommended that children be vaccinated in December.

According to Van den Hoof, vaccinating a child can also contribute to the fight against the epidemic. Children are a “source of transmission” and vaccination can reduce the chance of contacts getting infected. “The chance of getting an infection is much lower in the first months after vaccination, so you might as well do this to protect a grandfather or grandmother.”

Advantages and disadvantages of vaccination for children from the age of five to eleven.


Advantages and disadvantages of vaccination for children from the age of five to eleven.

Advantages and disadvantages of vaccination for children from the age of five to eleven.

picture: NU.nl/Bart-Jan Dekker

Corona vaccine can further reduce the small chance of recovery

Experts say the vaccination also reduces the chance of your child being admitted to the hospital. They stress that children have very little chance of ending up in hospital with COVID-19. Previous infection can also protect your child to a great extent and many children (unbeknownst to them) have already had an infection.

The proportion of hospital admissions was the smallest in the five-eleven age group: of 78,193 hospital admissions in 2021, the proportion was only 0.2 percent (143 admissions). Children with underlying conditions are more likely to end up in the hospital, Sanders says.

Then there is also the omikron variant, which, according to RIVM, causes less serious illness in children than the delta variant. The number of exposures will be about two-thirds smaller using an omicron variable. However, it is expected that the total number of hospitalizations among children will increase due to the omicron variable, simply because more children will become infected.

This is how small the chance of a five- to eleven-year-old child ending up in hospital

  • In six European countries, 65,800 children with COVID-19 with mild complaints were monitored.
  • Of this group, 0.61 percent were hospitalized.
  • 46 children had to go to the intensive care unit or to a ventilator.

The possibility of side effects from the vaccine in children is very small

According to the pediatrician, the side effects of vaccination in children are mild. This mainly concerns pain around the puncture site, fever, fatigue, and headache.

The first children will be able to receive their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine starting next week. Healthy babies get a second injection after two months. In children at risk, there are four weeks between injections.

With mRNA vaccines (such as the Pfizer vaccine) there is a small risk of serious side effects of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. However, according to American studies, this chance is much lower in young children than in adolescents and young adults. After nine million shots in the United States, there were 4.3 reports per million doses after the second vaccination in boys. For girls, this was two reports per million doses. Myocarditis, according to the pediatrician, was also mild and went quickly.

There is no vaccination target

RIVM maintains that it does not have a vaccination target when it comes to vaccinating children. This was previously the case in adults (85 percent). Behavioral research by RIVM shows that about half of parents are willing to vaccinate their children. Abroad, this percentage ranges between 35 and 50 percent.

Experts stress that there is no right or wrong choice. “If your child has already had the infection and recovered well, you’re in a different situation. It’s really up to the parents themselves,” Sanders says.

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