The vaccination of children against Covid-19 in Brazil began this Friday (14) with the immunization of an 8-year-old indigenous boy, Davi Xavante, who lives in the state of São Paulo. Vaccination will not be mandatory, but parents who refuse to immunize their children could be fined or even lose custody.
Since the authorization to apply the Pfizer vaccine in the age group of 5 to 11 years, many doubts have arisen in the population. After all, does the spread of the omicron variant represent a greater danger in the younger ones? Is the vaccine for minors the same as for adults? Is it really necessary to vaccinate children?
THE leaf compiled the main questions with their respective answers for this new cycle of protection against Covid-19.
Which vaccines have already been approved for children in Brazil?
Currently, the only vaccine that can be applied to children aged 5 to 11 in the country is that of Pfizer. The authorization granted by Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) took place on December 16, 2021.
Other pharmaceutical companies are also seeking authorization to use their products in children. An example is the Coronavac, which will be tested in Espírito Santo from this Friday (14th) on people from 3 to 17 years of age. In total, there will be 1,280 participants.
Is the vaccine used for children the same as for adults?
The vaccine for little ones has some differences. The first point is the dosage: for those over 12 years old, the dose is 0.3 ml, while for minors the dosage is 0.2 ml.
Storage time also changes. While for the elderly the immunizing agent can be kept in the fridge between 2ºC to 8ºC for just one month, for the little ones they are allowed up to ten weeks.
In addition, the children’s vaccine bottle contains ten doses, more than the version for over 12 years, which contains six doses.
What are the risks of vaccinating minors?
There are still no indications of serious side effects from vaccinating minors.
Jamal Suleiman, infectious disease specialist at Hospital Emílio Ribas, says that the immunizing agent for this age group is safe and necessary. “It is an extremely safe vaccine, with an adverse event rate of only 0.05% [em crianças a partir de cinco anos]”, it says.
Data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) also indicated that serious side effects are extremely rare in this age group. In one study, the agency evaluated reports received from physicians and the public, as well as responses to surveys of parents or guardians of approximately 43,000 children ages 5 to 11.
Most children report only pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, or fever. Reports of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, were recorded in only 11 vaccinees. Of those, seven children had recovered and four were recovering at the time of the report, the CDC said.
Why is it important to vaccinate children?
Contrary to the side effects that are negligible, the benefits of vaccinating children are much greater, such as the reduction of serious cases and mortality of the little ones.
The Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP) published a note last Thursday (6) in which it reported that research carried out so far points to the efficacy and safety of the vaccine applied in the pediatric population. The entity also indicated how immunizing agents are essential to prevent serious forms of Covid-19.
“The vaccine prevents death, pain, suffering, emergencies and hospitalization in all age groups. Denying this benefit to children without solid scientific evidence, as well as discouraging parents and guardians from immunizing their children, is an act regrettable and irresponsible act, which, unfortunately, can cost lives,” he said.
The publication of the note took place hours after President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) attacked childhood vaccination and asked parents not to be carried away by what he called propaganda.
The president stated that he is not aware of the death of children by Covid-19, but data from the Influenza Epidemiological Surveillance System (SIVEP-Gripe) inform that 301 deaths of children between 5 and 11 years old by Covid-19 were recorded in the country in 2020. , when the pandemic started, until December 6, 2021.
What are the impacts of the omicron variant in the case of children?
Omicron is a strain recognized for being more transmissible and has made Covid diagnoses explode in Brazil in recent weeks.
In this situation of dissemination of the new strain, vaccination of children is even more necessary, says Renato Grinbaum, a member of the SBI (Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases).
“It is necessary [a vacinação] because the new variants are spreading with greater intensity in unvaccinated populations, including children”, he says.
The United States, for example, recorded a record number of children hospitalized with Covid amid the advance of the omni. According to information from the Washington Post, 4,000 minors were hospitalized on the 5th.
The variant also caused schools to close in the country, causing children to resume schooling directly from their homes.
In Brazil, measures to suspend face-to-face classes have not yet been taken, but this is already discussed among experts.
“We are seeing what this variant is causing around the world and in all sectors, everyone is having to be more cautious. Although the school has shown to be a safe environment, it is not an island,” he said earlier this year. , Vitor de Angelo, president of Consed (National Council of Secretaries of Education).
School closures due to the spread of the micron can again bring problems that have been discussed since the beginning of the pandemic, such as inequalities in access to education.
How are the plans to vaccinate children in the country?
For January, 4.3 million doses are estimated, according to information from the Ministry of Health.
The ministry recommends a scheme in which immunization begins with indigenous children, quilombolas, minors with comorbidities and permanent disabilities. Then, children who live with people considered to be at risk should be vaccinated. Soon after these prioritizations, there should be a scaling by age group, starting with the oldest.
However, some states have already indicated that they will not follow these folder recommendations.
The Goiás Health Department, for example, stated in a note that vaccination will only be given in descending order of age, that is, starting with children aged 11 and being gradually reduced. A similar scheme will be adopted by Ceará.
In São Paulo, vaccination will be initiated by children with comorbidities. To prove the condition, they will need to present exams, prescriptions, medical report or prescription.
The City Hall of Rio de Janeiro released a vaccination schedule for children starting next Monday. The campaign will be divided by sex and starts with 11-year-old girls until it reaches 5-year-old boys on February 8th. On the 9th there will be a repechage for those who missed the immunization.
Can children under five be vaccinated?
In Brazil, no product has been approved, so far, to be used in children under five years of age. According to the president of Pfizer in Brazil, Marta Díez, the company intends to present to Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) the request for authorization to use the vaccine in children aged 6 months to 5 years.
“We are preparing results for children aged 6 months to 5 years. We hope for 2022, but we still don’t know when,” he said.
In addition, information from a document from the Ministry of Health sent to the STF (Supreme Federal Court) indicated that the folder plans to acquire doses for children aged 0 to 4 years if the Pfizer vaccine is approved by Anvisa.
However, the immunization of children under the age of four against Covid is already a reality in some countries. The United Arab Emirates has approved the use of Sinopharm immunizer for young people aged 3 to 17 years. Cuba also already applies the vaccine produced in the country to people who are over two years old.
Will there be a need for the third dose of the vaccine in children?
Information on the application of reinforcement in children is still scarce. According to Reuters, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized, on January 3 this year, a third dose for children aged 5 to 11 years who are immunosuppressed.
The decision was made to provide better protection against the delta and omicron variants, said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biological Assessment and Research. Data already indicate that a booster dose is important for a more effective immunization against the micron.
In Brazil, the booster dose is authorized only for people over 18 years of age and who have a minimum interval of four months from the complete vaccination schedule. The application in other age groups has not yet been announced.