Covid vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 are approaching clearance in the United States, with dispaccessibility possible from early November, and experts are already looking to the next hurdle: actually getting vaccines in these young arms.
Only a third of parents plan to vaccinate their children as soon as the vaccines are ready, the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation has found . Another third of those surveyed want to wait and see how the deployment is going.
“What is actually going to be more difficult, beyond having the infrastructure to be able to administer the Covid-19 vaccines, is making sure that parents feel comfortable with vaccinate their children, ”Syra Madad, infectious disease physician and senior director of the System- Wide Special Program on Pathogens at NYC Health + Hospitals, told The Guardian.
About half of children 12 years of age and older have been vaccinated within months of receiving the light green vaccine for these ages.
Immunizing people of all ages is crucial to ending the pandemic, said Dr Saad Omer, infectious disease epidemiologist and director of the Yale Institute of Health world.
"We cannot get out of this pandemic without immunizing children - both for their own good and for the sake of having a comprehensive protection, ”he added.
Covid-19 cases in parts of the United States are starting to level off or decline - and that could give families a false sense of security that childhood immunizations are not necessary, Madad said. But it is actually the best time to get the sho ts, because vaccines can prevent nonew peaks.
"You cannot vaccinate to come out of a peak. You want to make sure you have immunity to prevent this surge to happen, "Madad said.
" Right now we have all indications that we can see another push, "Madad added .
A little over half ( 56.5% ) of the US population has been fully immunized - not enough coverage to prevent future epidemics from spreading. And because countries rich took the lion's share of vaccines, other countries have extremely low vaccination rates.
Any community, at home or abroad , with low rates could contribute to the emergence of other, possibly more serious variants.
"If this happens, wewant to prevent this flare from happening, and the best way we know of is obviously to vaccinate in advance, "Madad said.
Yet the communication from federal agencies has often been imperfect and politicized.
"With the previous administration, this was almost nonexistent, and it was every man , wife, child for themselves, to be very honest "said Madad. While the Biden administration has done a better job, she said, "we continue to struggle with this even today - we are even seeing it with the recall communication. It has been very confusing and frustrating. "
Conversations about the importance, safety and efficacy of vaccines must also take place at all levels, not just in government federal, she said. “At the local level, at the community level, at the individual level, this is what has an impact.Not with someone standing on a podium who says "it's safe and effective." "
People are more likely to trust their own doctors, community leaders, friends and family when it comes to health advice, Madad said.
There have also been mixed messages from public health leaders about how many children are affected by Covid and if they are needed vaccines. It also lowers confidence and adds confusion about vaccines, Omer said, “The fact that many parents are getting mixed messages has complicated this problem.
"Public health agencies are far behind in setting up effective communication campaigns - for all kinds of vaccinations," Omer said. "This time we have to get ahead.
He recommended having a joint campaignication for families ready to go as pediatric vaccines hit the shelves.
"We need to involve pediatricians - and arm them not only with facts , but also approaches to communicate around Covid vaccines ", he said. “There is a whole science of communication, but we haven't.
Talking about the safety and effectiveness of clinical trials is important, as is removing barriers to accessing and making vaccinations as easy as possible, Omer said.
When the first third of families rush to get vaccinated, he said, the CDC should immediately conduct studies on side effects under real conditions, using databases such as Vaccine Safety DataLink , which compiles millions of supplier records.
The CDC has produced data from these sources, "but not as much as needed," Omer said.
Later, authorities can build on existing mandates for childhood vaccines. - but it's important not to do it too early, he said. "Before you mandate it, make sure it's super easy to get your child vaccinated .
"California is talking about fall 2022 - it's a reasonable time," Omer said. Mandates and requirements should not be "too punitive", offering alternatives like masking and regular testing options at the start, such as "way to push parents.
Omer characterized the US response to the pandemic as" doing the right thing, but with a few months ofdelay ”. Stepping up testing, monitoring groundbreaking cases, imposing masks, digitizing immunization records - the US has always lagged behind on mitigation and prevention, and Omer is worried what will happen. if leaders are unable to rise to the occasion.
"The first rule to controlling an epidemic of any size is to get ahead of it - to get ahead of it. As long as you follow an Outbreak, Outbreak beats you. "