Children aged 12-15 in Cyprus will have access to the vaccine against Covid-19 infection from tomorrow, Monday 2 August. The decision was taken a few days ago by the Council of Ministers which had taken seriously the recommendations of the Cyprus Pediatric Society and the advisory scientific committee of the Ministry of Health. Aim to increase the vaccination shield of the population. The ultimate goal of this measure is to minimize the chances of outbreaks in schools with the start of the new school year next September.
Where and how the vaccination will take place
The vaccination will be done with mRNA technology vaccines (Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna), following the recommendation by the Cyprus Pediatric Society and the Scientific Advisory Committee for the coronavirus.
The vaccination will be voluntary and with the necessary consent of the parents or legal guardians. Already in several European Union countries, such as France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Greece as of today, they are vaccinating children aged 12-15, in an effort to achieve greater protection of the population.
Cyprus Pediatric Society: Vaccinations of children over 12 years of age should start immediately
The universal vaccination of children of this age group is a unanimous decision of the Cyprus Pediatric Society which met on July 29 and studied in detail the issue of vaccination of children over 12 years against Covid-19 disease and came to the following conclusions unanimously:
It is obvious that in the middle of summer we are experiencing the 4th wave of the pandemic, with the prevailing strain at the moment being the Delta variant of the Sars-Cov2 virus which is characterized by increased transmissibility at all ages.
The cases of Covid-19 disease in our country have already exceeded 100,000 and 20% of them concern children (53% in children> 12 years old).
Data from the analysis of recent cases and increasing hospitalizations due to Covid-19 show that they mainly concern unvaccinated people and therefore it is reasonable to observe increased morbidity in childhood.
The age group of children> 12 years is characterized by intense social activity, reduced compliance with health precautions, frequent contact with younger children and possibly unvaccinated elderly and therefore contributes significantly to the spread of the virus.
Achieving collective immunity and preventing the development and spread of new strains of the virus requires the fastest possible vaccination, if possible of the entire population that remains unvaccinated and can (in the absence of medical and age reasons) be vaccinated.
Although the majority of childhood cases are mild, the possibility of serious complications from Covid-19 infection (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome – MIS-C, which is more severe in adolescence or long Covid syndrome) is real.
The resumption and ensuring the smooth operation of all levels of education from next September requires the strengthening of the wall of immunity. Preserving the psycho-emotional health of children, which has been so affected by the pandemic and the prolonged periods of inclusion and abstinence from social activities, presupposes the fastest possible return to our old normalcy.
The need to safeguard the vaccination coverage of children who have inevitably been affected by the pandemic and the delays that have already occurred in the vaccination of the basic vaccination program raises further concerns in the event of an extension of the current situation.
There has been accumulated experience with the use of approved mRNA vaccines in children> 12 years of age for several weeks, in a sufficient number of countries (US> 9,000,000 doses have been administered), with strong evidence of their efficacy. The only serious reported side effect is the rare chance of developing myocarditis in 1-4: 100,000 vaccinated children. The vast majority of these cases showed a mild illness, with an excellent outcome. The other side effects that occurred were the usual vaccinations with most basic vaccines and were all mild and transient. The strict supervision carried out by the competent scientific bodies and regulatory authorities (eg FDA, EMA) as well as the strong recommendation for use of the vaccine in children over 12 years by the most responsible scientific organizations such as CDC, ECDC, AAP , the EAP and a significant number of European and other countries that are constantly updated, gives even more confidence in the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.
The benefit of vaccinating this age group compared to any potential risks far outweighs the benefits. However, it is pointed out that the benefit is multiplied for children of this age range who belong to groups at high risk for serious illness due to pre-existing diseases such as obesity, chronic respiratory diseases, neuromuscular diseases, etc. With the recommendation of vaccination vaccination of adults who remain unvaccinated and especially those who care for or come into close contact with children but are primarily concerned with the need to protect children themselves, including those who, due to age, cannot be vaccinated at this time.
Green light from Coreper
At the end of May, Coreper gave the green light for the vaccination for Covid-19 for 12-15 year olds
“We have evidence that the Comirnaty (Pfizer / Biontech) vaccine against Covid-19 is safe for 12- to 15-year-olds,” said Marco, head of vaccination strategy at the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Cavaleri, noting that it is up to each Member State to decide if and when to administer this vaccine at these ages.
“The EMA Committee on Human Medicines (CHMP) has approved the Comirnaty vaccine for Covid-19 in children aged 12 to 15 years. The vaccine has already been approved for use in adults and adolescents aged 16 and over and now we have data that show that this vaccine is safe for 12-15 year olds “, added Marco Cavaleri.
Coreper's opinion will be forwarded to the European Commission, which will give the final approval, Cavaleri said, noting, however, that it is up to each member state to decide if and when this vaccine will be used in adolescents in the future.
“Extending the protection of this safe and effective vaccine to a younger population is an important step forward in combating this pandemic. We recognize this important achievement “, said the head of Coreper about the vaccination strategy.