Covid vaccines for UNDER-FIVES likely next year, Italy says
Covid vaccines for UNDER-FIVES are likely to be brought in by April in Italy, country’s health minister reveals
- Covid vaccine could be approved for under-fives by next Spring, Italy says
- Health minister Andrea Costa said he expects shots to be approved before April
- Comes as most European countries begin vaccinating the over-5s this week
- Covid deaths in children are extremely rare, but it is hoped vaccinating the youngest will help to slow down infections
Italy is hoping to make Covid vaccines available to children aged under five next year, the country’s health minister has revealed.
Andrea Costa said on Thursday that he is ‘hopeful’ jabs can be made available to the very youngest by the end of March.
‘We await the work of the scientists, who every day give is the right weapons to fight the pandemic, with great trust,’ he said.
Most countries are now vaccinating at least some children against Covid, with a handful already inoculating those aged under five.
That is despite the fact that serve illness in under-fives is extremely rare, and deaths in that age group are almost unheard of.
Covid vaccines for children aged under 5 could be approved in Italy before April next year, the country’s health minister has said (file image)
In England throughout the whole of 2020 there was just one death in a child aged under five, and just 25 in children under 17 between March 2020 and February 2021.
Around half of the 25 who died had severe underlying conditions and required intensive medical care such as breathing or feeding tubes.
But it is hoped that immunizing children will help to stop the spread of Covid to older and more-vulnerable age groups – especially among school-age children.
Vaccines are not as effective at stopping infection as they are at preventing serious disease and death from Covid, but they do still provide some protection against transmission – including against the Omicron variant.
Nations which do not routinely vaccinate children are also finding it hard to get their overall jab rates above 70 per cent – the theoretical level required for herd immunity.
For example, the UK vaccinated its adult population at a faster rate than most other European countries with its campaign largely finished by early summer.
Europe has vaccinated around 65 per cent of its population against Covid on average, but countries with the highest jab rates have all widely vaccinated children
But its overall jab rate then stopped around 68 per cent, slightly above the European average but just short of the herd immunity threshold.
Britain has since been overhauled by the likes of Spain and Portugal which have vaccinated 80 per cent and 90 per cent of their population respectively – largely because they have been offering the jabs to children.
The UK only offers a single dose to children aged 12-15, and has only recently started offering two doses to those in that age group with underlying conditions.
Spain and Portugal have been fully vaccinating all children aged over 12 for months, and began offering two doses to those aged over five earlier in December.
As a result, both countries have fared better against the winter wave of Covid than the UK has.
Cases are now climbing in both due to the emergence of the vaccine-busting Omicron variant, but neither has introduced widespread restrictions while hospital admissions and deaths remain very low.
A handful of countries are already vaccinating the under-fives against Covid, with China becoming the first to approve a shot for those aged three and above in June
China was among the first countries to offer jabs to the under-5s, having approved its Sinovac vaccine for those aged 3+ back in June.
Several countries which rely on the Sinovac shot for their jab campaigns have followed suit, including the likes of Hong Kong, Argentina, and Bahrain.
Most European nations now vaccinate or have plans to vaccinate children aged above five after the EU’s medical regulator approved the move last month.
The United State also gave approval for Pfizer’s vaccine to be used in children aged five and above back in November. Some states have started mandating vaccines for children aged above 12.
A much-smaller group of nations restrict the jabs to only older children, including the likes of Brazil, Russia, India, Sweden, Norway, and Mexico.
Cuba is the country which has offered vaccines to the youngest kids, making shots available to everyone aged two and above.
Which countries are vaccinating children against Covid?
Vaccinating those under 5:
- Cuba, Venezuela, (2+)
- China, Hong Kong, Argentina, Bahrain, Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia (3+)
Vaccinating those aged 5+:
- United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Netherlands, Costa Rica (5+)
- Ecuador, Indonesia, Chile, El Salvador (6+)
Planning to vaccinate 5+:
- Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, Japan
Vaccinating some children:
- Austria, (5+ but only in some regions)
- France (12-17, plus 5-11 but only with underlying conditions)
- India, Sweden, Norway, UK, Jordan, Morocco, Guinea, Namibia, South Africa, South Korea, Philippines, Brazil (12+, some with restrictions)
- Zimbabwe (14+)
- Egypt, Mexico (15+)
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