A committee of experts that guides the vaccination campaign in the United Kingdom decided on Friday (3) not to recommend the immunization of healthy adolescents against Covid-19. Those who have comorbidities or who live with vulnerable adults can still get vaccinated.
The decision is made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization of the United Kingdom (JCVI, its acronym in English), which made an assessment of the risks of contamination by Covid and the possible adverse effects of the Pfizer vaccine in the public aged 12 to 15 years.
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The decision was made based on the analysis of a extremely rare side effect: an inflammation in the heart called myocarditis.
The British government said it will await more information about the side effect caused by the Pfizer vaccine before deciding whether or not to accept the Committee’s recommendation.
It is important to emphasize that all vaccines, not just those against Covid-19, can cause side effects. Vaccines are used and approved by health agencies after a series of clinical trials in large populations because they demonstrate that the benefit of the immune response generated in the population is substantially greater than the risks of side effects.
Below, see five questions and answers About the subject:
1 – What is the committee’s justification for not recommending vaccination for all adolescents over 12 years of age?
According to the Committee, although young people from 12 to 15 years old can become infected with the coronavirus, the numbers in the world show that the age group does not correspond to a significant percentage of the number of hospitalizations or cases of death.
Thus, the Committee assesses that the adverse effects of the vaccine could cause greater damage than the disease is causing in the age group.
“The profit margin [proporcionada pela vacinação] is considered too small to support universal Covid-19 vaccination for this age group at this time,” argued Wei Shen Lim, JCVI President of Covid-19 Immunization.
2 – Are there data showing that myocarditis is a rare side effect?
Yes. A study of more than 2.4 million people in Israel vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech immunizer revealed that, in fact, there is little risk of inflammation in the heart (myocarditis), especially in young boys, after the second dose of the vaccine.
The incidence of inflammation, as evidenced by the research, is extremely low and the risk of contracting the disease is greater in Covid-19 cases than in vaccinated people. While myocarditis was observed only 2.7 times per 100,000 people vaccinated, the incidence of the onset of the disease jumped to 11 cases per 100,000 infected with unvaccinated coronaviruses.
US U.S, an investigation revealed that 67 cases of myocarditis were detected in every million of boys aged 12 to 17 years vaccinated with the second dose. In girls, this rate was 9 cases per million immunized. The research results were published in the scientific journal Nature.
There is still research suggesting that myocarditis is an effect of Covid-19 itself. So far, it is not possible to say with certainty whether the condition is actually caused by the vaccine or not.
3 – Which countries vaccinate adolescents?
Countries like United States, Canada, Israel, France, Italy and even Brazil has already started vaccinating teenagers from the age of 12 with the immunizing agent produced by Pfizer.
4 – What is the incidence of teenage victims in Brazil?
Yes, but the number of deaths of children and adolescents killed by Covid-19 compared to the rest of the population in Brazil does not reach 1%
According to Marcelo Otsuka, infectious disease and coordinator of the Pediatric Infectology Committee of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases (SBI), the number of people in this age group is low, but it is still worrying.
“The percentage of children and adolescents who died due to Covid-19 corresponds to 0.5% of total deaths, which may seem like little. But, if we have 500 thousand deaths in Brazil, 2,500 deaths are of children and adolescents. This is too much. We do need to protect children and teenagers too,” says Otsuka.
5 – Is it possible for the percentage of hospitalized children and adolescents to increase?
Yes, but caution is needed in interpreting this data, since the percentage of hospitalized children and adolescents may increase due to the decrease in the number of cases caused by vaccination in other age groups.
According to infectologist Renato Kfouri, president of the immunization department of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP), with the advance of vaccination in other age groups, it is natural that the percentage of Covid cases decrease among the elderly and increase among children, group who has not yet been immunized.
“Today, what we see is the manifestation of severe cases of Covid-19, mostly in non-vaccinated individuals. Vaccination is advancing in other age groups and in a moment only children will remain as non-vaccinated. If we do not vaccinate. for children, what we will have is a proportional increase in severe cases in children,” explains Kfouri.