FUREY: Read what the kids’ vaccine approval actually says — it’s not a ringing endorsement
This week, the country is set to embark on the roll-out of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for kids in the 5-11 age bracket. It’s looking like this may sadly be one of the more tense and divided parts of the pandemic response to date.
There are the vaccine exuberant, who are desperate to see their kids first in line. There are those who, for various reasons, are opposed to having their kids vaccinated. And then, if pollsters are to be believed, there are the 65% of Canadians who are OK with extending vaccine passport restrictions to this age bracket.
But whatever category a parent falls into, they’d be wise to take a few minutes to read the report by Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) outlining the agency’s rationale behind approving the vaccine. Because it’s a far less enthusiastic endorsement than a lot of news reports and doctors weighing in on social media would have you believe.
For starters, while NACI doesn’t make any public policy pronouncements, they clearly don’t support extending the passport system to kids. “It is essential that children aged 5-11 years and their parents are supported and respected in their decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations for their children, whatever decisions they make, and are not stigmatized for accepting, or not accepting, the vaccination offer,” the report states.
In fact, when it comes to approving the vaccine, all they say is that it “may be” now offered to kids. They explain that “[g]iven the short- term uncertainties surrounding pediatric vaccination at this time, children and their parents or guardians should be supported and respected in their decisions.”
One of the uncertainties they’re referring to is potential hospitalizations for vaccine-related myocarditis. The report points out that the fact the kids’ doses are a third of the volume will hopefully minimize these problems, but they state how “[t]he overall safety and effectiveness data are limited for children.”
A lot of parents likely don’t realize that the trial size for kids was quite small, and the NACI report explains that: “Any uncommon, rare, or very rare [side effect] that occurs at the frequency less often than 1 in 1,000 would not be detected with this trial size.” Keep in mind that Ontario health officials now recommend against young males taking Moderna due to a myocarditis rate that was 1 in 5,000.