Johns Hopkins Doctor Says Children Need to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

The Hill | Mar 2, 2022 

A Johns Hopkins doctor and scholar on Wednesday said children should still get vaccinated despite new data showing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is less effective in younger children.

Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Hill.TV on Wednesday that people should “take a step back and think about what we are trying to achieve with the vaccines.”

“And that’s protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death,” Adalja said. “Children tend to be spared from severe disease but in those high-risk children this is still a safe and highly effective vaccine.”

On Monday, the New York State Department of Health released data showing Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy rates against COVID-19 infection for children aged 5 to 11 was lower than in older children.

Adalja said the highly transmissible variant omicron “erases a lot of the protection” vaccines provide, and that younger children get smaller doses, both of which could play a role in the lower vaccine efficacy rates for younger children.

President Biden‘s administration is pivoting to a COVID-19 mitigation strategy tailored toward living with the novel coronavirus, but vaccines remain an important part of the government’s toolkit in the return to normal life.

Some have questioned about myocarditis and other issues related to vaccination in younger children, but Adalja said myocarditis is more of an issue among older children and that could still be mitigated through discussions and planning with health professions.

The doctor argued that in approved age groups, children still need to get vaccinated.

“I would argue we vaccinate for things like chickenpox, we vaccinate for diseases like Rotavirus, which don’t really have a major mortality or morbidity impact on children,” he said. “But yet we do it because we want the child avoiding this inconvenient illness that puts them out for a couple days and could be contagious for other people.”

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*Children under 5 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine (as of June 2022).