Vaccination of toddlers: a specialist responds to fears

Vaccination of toddlers: a specialist responds to fears

Should your child aged six months to five years be vaccinated or not against COVID-19? If some parents refuse to do so because of a question of beliefs or values, others are simply fearful of the idea. Subway consulted an immunology specialist to see more clearly.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), only 41% of parents intend to have their child under five years old vaccinated against the disease, compared to 40% who do not count the TO DO.

“It does not surprise me so much, it was expected with what we see in terms of adherence to the third and fourth doses”, admits Alain Lamarre, full professor at the National Institute for Scientific Research ( INRS), reacting to the results of this survey.

We still saw a big decrease for adults, so it’s not surprising that for children, it’s even lower, since parents are always more fearful.

Alain Lamarre, full professor at INRS

Low risk for little ones

One of the reasons given by parents who do not intend to have their child vaccinated is that COVID-19 poses a low risk to young children.

“Of course the risk is lower than in adults,” admits the INRS professor.

On the other hand, it seems that children aged 6 months to 4 years are four to five times more at risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 than young people aged 5 to 17 who are not adequately vaccinated, can we read in an interim scientific opinion published by the INSPQ on July 14.

According to the figures published in this notice, 230 children aged 6 months to 4 years were hospitalized with COVID-10 between January 2 and May 7, 2022, compared to 69 hospitalizations for children aged 5 to 11 and 43 for children. 12 to 17 years old.

Side effects

The other fear expressed by the parents surveyed is the possible side effects.

Alain Lamarre explains that no side effects specific to toddlers have been observed. He adds that since the dose for young children is about a quarter of that given to adults, “this allows you to have very few side effects while maintaining a good immune response”.

Recall that for the moment, only the Moderna vaccine has been authorized by Health Canada, that of Pfizer being still under study.

Vaccine effectiveness

While it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 despite adequate vaccination – which leads some people to question the effectiveness of vaccines – Alain Lamarre recalls that there are serious cases in young children. .

“The big advantage of vaccines is to protect us against severe disease. So it will be the same for children, ”says Alain Lamarre.

We shouldn’t just see it as a way to slow the spread, but the usefulness of vaccines is above all to limit serious illness and death. There are some in this age group, so if we can avoid them, why would we deprive ourselves of them?

Alain Lamarre, full professor at INRS

Note, however, that among the potential complications of the coronavirus, there is long COVID and the multisystem inflammatory syndrome of the child (SIME) and that according to the interim opinion of the INSPQ, “uncertainties persist on the extent of these two complications in the age group 6 months to 4 years and the ability of vaccination to reduce their incidence”.

Alain Lamarre specifies that the fears of parents about vaccination are normal, but that they must be reassured, especially since it is the toddlers who are vaccinated the most in general. There is expertise in this area and it is a “very common” practice, he concludes.

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