COVID-19

Covid-19: Does the WHO advise against vaccination of children?

An error of the “Point” is at the origin of a false information, according to which the World Health Organization would ask to avoid the vaccination of children. On the contrary, its regional director in Europe believes that it protects them and limits the transmission of the virus.
Rosa’s question, December 8.

Good morning,

You ask us if it is “true that the WHO advises against vaccinating the very young, as Kierzek says on Twitter.” The media emergency doctor Gérald Kierzek shared an article from Le Point (as well as from many Internet users) taking up an AFP dispatch and stating in its title that “the WHO urges Europe to protect children and avoid their vaccination.”

Except that the position of the WHO is actually quite different … As also indicated by the AFP dispatch collected by the weekly. The agency refers to a position taken by WHO Europe, published Tuesday on its site. This is a statement by Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, who takes stock of the pandemic situation in the Old Continent. Contrary to what Le Point stated, the director of WHO Europe does not advise against the vaccination of children, since he says on the contrary that “the vaccination of young children not only limits their role in the transmission of Covid-19, it also protects them. ” of pediatric complications, whether associated with a prolonged Covid or with multisystemic inflammatory syndromes ”. Its purpose is to call for the establishment of “safe learning conditions for young children in the face of [au] Covid-19, so that we can avoid school closings and home schooling ”by focusing on“ the use of masks, ventilation and periodic tests ”. He adds that “the vaccination of children should be the subject of discussion and be considered at the national level, within the framework of protection measures for schools.”

In his statement, however, Hans Kluge asks “not to impose vaccination without first having contacted the communities concerned”, believing that “the vaccination obligation is really a measure of last resort and applicable only when all other feasible options for a better acceptance of vaccination has been proven. ”Comments on the general population and on the decisions that States can take, after some, like Austria, have decided to make vaccination compulsory under penalty of sanctions.

The false information, shared in particular by Gérald Kierzek, stems from an error in the title of Le Point. The weekly’s website first published the dispatch with the title “WHO urges Europe to protect children and avoid vaccination”, while AFP’s original title was “Covid: Europe asked to protect children and avoid compulsory vaccination “. The magazine has since corrected the headline: “Covid-19: WHO urges Europe to better protect children.” In its first version, the Point also wrote the following caption: “If the vaccination of the very young continues to be debated throughout the continent, the World Health Organization has firmly pronounced on the issue.” Since then, this text has been corrected to “the World Health Organization calls for better protection of children, particularly affected by Covid-19, without having to resort to mandatory vaccination.”

“It is not a priority”

Therefore, although it is false to affirm that the WHO is against the vaccination of children, the WHO does not prioritize it either, the primary objective being to achieve the vaccination of 40% of the population of each country at the end of the period. year and 70% by mid-2022. In June, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization, Soumya Swaminathan, argued that “vaccinating children is not a priority because children, although they can become infected with Covid-19 and transmit infecting others, they have a much lower risk of serious disease than older adults. ”The WHO chief scientist then noted that“ with the exception of a very small number of high-risk children, ”“ they are not considered a High priority at the present time because we have limited doses of vaccines, we must use them to protect the most vulnerable ”.

This position has not changed, since in a statement released on November 24, the WHO still concludes that, “as children and adolescents tend to have a milder disease than adults, unless they are part of a group with greater risk of serious Covid-19, vaccinating them is less urgent than the elderly, people with chronic health problems and health workers ”.

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