Vaccinating children: the key to reach herd immunity against Covid-19?

Published by Cécile D., Caroline J. · Published on 8 April 2021 at 10h56 · Updated on 8 April 2021 at 11h31
At the beginning of the vaccination campaign in France, Alain Fischer told Le Parisien that “perhaps we shall vaccinate children someday” because of coronavirus variants. As for Health Minister Olivier Véran, he said it was not on the agenda for now. In April 2021, vaccinating children is back on the table.

This is a statement that generated a lot of discussions. On January 16, 2021, in Le Parisien, French government Mister Vaccine Pr. Alain Fischer said “perhaps we shall vaccinate children someday” because of the different coronavirus variants.

Variants have been spreading in France. And as Fischer expected it, they led the French government to rethink their vaccinal strategy and vaccinate “perhaps someday” children. “Perhaps we shall vaccinate children someday. In Great-Britain, they are trying to figure out if their higher infection rate is caused by this variant. If it is confirmed and if children do spread the virus, the question will be relevantFischer then told Le Parisien.

This January 19, Health Minister Véran said on France Inter that “for the moment, it’s not on the agenda”, adding that “so far, no authorization for using vaccine in children in a standard health scheme has been delivered. The European Medicines Agencies has not asked us to do so and has not approved it. […] If the situation was to evolve, competent authorities will be referred on a European and domestic level. […] For the moment, it’s not on the agenda”.

For the record, the positivity rate in children keeps on increasing. According to the latest epidemiologic report issued on January 13 by Santé Publique France, this rate reached 10% in children under 10, and 8.5% in children aged 10-19. 10 days earlier, it was below 3%.

Faced with the spread of this British variant across the country, the Health Minister also announced they will instate a “protocol aiming at testing up to one million children and teachers a month”.

A few months later, vaccinating children is back on the table. Published this April 7, 2021, a study by the Institut Pasteur simulates different scenarios to try and find when France is to reach herd immunity. To do so, it would be necessary to vaccinate 90% of adults before September 1... or start vaccinating children.

The Institut considers life without maks nor health guidelines could resume from Fall 2021 if the government changes their vaccination strategy a bit.

"If only adults are vaccinated, the virus will keep on spreading in children, and therefore, we'll get infection tanks that will make children to continue contaminating their entourage", Simon Cauchemez told France Info.

The Institut Pasteur infectious disease mathematics modeling unit scientist considers that if the country continues to massively vaccinated people over 65 years of age, and if the population aged 0 to 64 is also included in the health campaign, it would be enough to have 60 to 69% of the population vaccinated to make life return to normal quickly.

With this in mind, the Pfizer and Moderna laboratories have launched clinical studies to assess the effects of their vaccines on children and teenagers.

The government could be forced to extend vaccination to children if a too great number of adults still refuse to get immunited. When reading the study by the Institut Pasteur, CNRS Covid-19 epidemic modeler Jean-Stéphane Dhersin told HuffPost that "vaccinating underaged is a potential lever to get back to normal life. If adults refuse to be vaccinated, perhaps it would be necessary to extend the vaccination cover by involving children".

 Santé publique France latest data show that only 58% of the 50-64 claim they want to be vaccinated. A percentage dropping to only a third in 18-24.

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