Covid-19: everything you need to know about vaccinating children ages 5 to 11

After the opening of the vaccination of children “at risk” on December 15, this Wednesday marks the opening of vaccination to all children from 5 to 11 years, announced the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. The decision comes after the approval of the National Ethics Advisory Committee (CCNE) and the High Health Authority (HAS). Vaccination is not mandatory and will be done on a voluntary basis.

Who are the children affected by vaccination?

All children 5 to 11 years old, approximately 6 million young people, are eligible for vaccination, except those with contraindications. This Wednesday, the vaccination strategy guidance council estimated that the current context “reinforces the need to vaccinate children of this age group without further delay.”

For its part, the High Health Authority recommends vaccinating schoolchildren as a priority: some are vaccinated and others not according to the date of their 12th birthday. Children who were at risk of severe forms or who lived in the same household as an immunosuppressed person could already receive an injection from December 15, 2021.

When can they get vaccinated?

Since Wednesday, December 22, online dating scheduling for children from 5 to 11 years old is available on dedicated sites such as Doctolib, Vite ma dose, Santé.fr …., announced the Minister of Health, Olivier. See. You must select “Pfizer-BioNTech child”.

What vaccines can children be vaccinated with?

So far, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has obtained marketing authorization for children 5 to 11 years of age.

Do children receive the same doses as adults?

No, the dose of Covid vaccines for children is lower than that for adults. It is “three times lower than the dose used in adults” since it contains “10 micrograms of antigens while the vaccine used in adults contains 30,” pediatrician Daniel Floret stressed in franceinfo. Children can receive two injections 3 weeks apart.

In December, 1.9 million doses were ordered for children and in January a million more will be delivered. The vials delivered to the vaccination points, which will contain ten doses, have an orange cap to differentiate them from the adult doses (with a purple cap) and to avoid errors.

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Where to vaccinate children?

The vaccination will be carried out in the vaccination centers with specific appointments, the General Health Directorate reported this Wednesday. Some 350 centers will ensure with “a particular circuit” the vaccination of children until January, said the Ministry of Health. The list of pediatric vaccination centers can be consulted on the Santé.fr website. Ultimately, all the centers, numbering 1,500, should be concerned. The vaccine can also be administered by a doctor, pediatrician, or maternal and child health services. Nurses can also vaccinate with a prescription.

Why vaccinate children when they develop few serious forms of Covid-19?

Very significant increase in the number of cases

The incidence rate (number of cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants) is especially high among those under 19 years of age, with more than 530 cases per 100,000 young people. It even exceeds 900 cases per 100,000 children between the ages of 6 and 10 (compared to just over 430 for the general population). According to figures from Public Health France, the incidence rate among children under 10 years of age has multiplied by 12 in one month, from 45.7 on November 3 to 557 on December 3.

Currently, the circulation of the virus is the fastest among children attending primary school, with “one in 100 children positive for Covid-19,” according to the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran. In franceinfo, Daniel Floret, pediatrician and vice president of the vaccination technical committee of the High Health Authority explained: “With a high incidence rate, we can expect there to be more serious forms. They are relatively rare in children but that does not mean that they are not exist. […] We must stop saying that we vaccinate children to protect unvaccinated adults, this is not the case: we vaccinate children to protect children. The available data show that the balance between benefit and risk is all the more positive since we are in a phase where the incidence is very high in this population. “Currently, 145 children are hospitalized for these forms. Serious cases of Covid – 19, including 27 in intensive care units.

Increase vaccination coverage

Although the progression of vaccination has stalled among adults (some 6 million French have not received any doses), supporters of vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 years believe that it will have collective virtues: limit contamination of the children and therefore reduce viral circulation so much. as possible, but also avoid closing classes.

The pediatrician, Daniel Floret, insisted this Wednesday morning in franceinfo: “We have data that shows that with vaccination coverage, even 50% of children, we would significantly reduce the number of cases in schools causing closures of classes that still bother children a lot. ” and families “.

As for adolescents, Health Minister Olivier Véran clarified this morning that the booster dose will not be extended to this age group for the time being. “There are no data on the efficacy and especially the tolerance of booster doses in adolescents at the moment,” adds Daniel Floret.

What do clinical trials say about children ages 5 to 11?

Clinical trials conducted by Pfizer in North America and several European countries in nearly 4,500 children (including 2,200 ages 5 to 11) have shown that the vaccine was 90.7% effective against symptomatic forms of the disease. According to the scientific pediatric societies and the Société de Pathologie Infectieuse de Langue Française, which reviewed the existing data, “the most frequent adverse effects (pain at the injection site, redness, fever, asthenia, etc.) were identical between the patients. first and second doses and close to the known figures in adults ”.

“Without a doubt, these methodologically reliable studies on these two RNA vaccines allow us to establish the immunogenicity and most probably the efficacy of vaccination before the age of 12 years,” they point out. “However,” they warn, these studies “do not identify possible rare side effects. We must wait for pharmacovigilance data, available after the administration of several million doses.”

In the United States, vaccination of the very young began in early November. In Europe, the drug regulator recommended the Pfizer vaccine on November 25 for children ages 5 to 11. Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain have already given their approval to this vaccine.

Do you need the agreement of both parents to vaccinate a child?

The consent of only one parent is sufficient. “Only the authorization of one or the other of the holders of parental authority is required to carry out a screening or injection of the vaccine against Covid-19, without prejudice to the assessment of possible against medical indications”, specifies the Article 1 of Law No. 2021-1040 of August 5, 2021 on the management of the health crisis.

In case of disagreement between the two parents, one of the two can vaccinate their child despite the opposition of their spouse or ex-spouse. Children under 16 years of age do not need parental consent to access vaccination. Olivier Véran recalled that at the time of the injection, “one of the parents will have to be physically present.”

Can I refuse to have my child vaccinated?

Yes, parental consent is still required to vaccinate a child. The vaccination will be done “on a voluntary basis”. The school and extracurricular structures may not require the vaccination certificate.

Will my child need to be vaccinated to go to school?

“This is not on the agenda. This is not the case for students over 12 years of age for whom vaccination is possible,” replied the Ministry of Education in Paris.

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