Doctor stresses ‘advantages’ for children of vaccination

A leading doctor has said parents should consider the “advantages” of vaccinating their children, after the Stormont health department announced 5-11 year-olds would be offered coronavirus vaccines from April.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 3:57 pm
Child vaccination
Child vaccination

The announcement was made by the Department of Health on Wednesday evening, but concerns have been expressed that the advice available to parents is “unclear”.

That was the verdict of Northern Ireland Chilcren’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma during an interview with BBC Radio Ulster broadcast on Thursday morning

The head of the British Medical Asscoiation in Northern Ireland, Dr Tom Black, has now sought to bring clarity to parents who are still undecided on whether to go ahead with vaccination for their children.

Speaking to the News Letter, Dr Black said: “Parents have time to think about it because it doesn’t open until April and it’s a routine scheme. It’s not being put through as an emergency like the adult vaccination. The answer is that the advantage for an individual child is marginal, but it is to their advantage.”

He explained: “The rates of side effects are very low — two in a million might get myocarditis from it. We would say it is a safe vaccine. They’ve already given eight million vaccines in the United States to this age group, so we know that it’s a safe vaccine. There are very few, very rare side effects.

“It will benefit children in a number of ways. It will decrease their chances of getting the infection. It will decrease the chances for a very small number getting hospitalised, and it will decrease their chances of getting long covid.

So there are advanatages to the individual child, but there are greater advantages to the family.”

Dr Black continued: “We all know how difficult it is when children are in-and-out of school all the time, and you would hope that if there are a significant number of children in that age group vaccinated that you wouldn’t see the same rates of isolation of children at home — something whcih has really made life very difficult for people. You would expect to see children being able to further their education in a much more steady way without all the breaks we’re having at the moment. We’ve also had a lot of families who are eager for their children to get this vaccination because they have relatives who are elderly, or immunosuppressed. They’ve been keen to get the vaccination for their children so that they are less likely to spread an infection on to their grandparents or elderly relatives. “

He added: “So you can see that there are a whole breadth of advantages to it, and we haven’t even got into the overall benefit to society of not having children spreading the infection more generally.”

Children aged 5-11 are to be offered Pfizer vaccines.