AMSTERDAM - The Dutch pediatrics association (NVK) said it is now in favor of vaccinating all children between the ages of 12 and 17 against Covid-19, and not only those who are part of a medical risk group. A key reason to inoculate them against the disease is to prevent further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the organization said.
“The most important consideration is that it has a significant effect against the spread of the more contagious delta variant,” said Károly Illy, the chair of the NVK, in an interview with NOS on Monday.
Earlier this month, the organization said there was not enough information to issue advice on the topic. That was because the medical risk connected to Covid-19 in teenagers is very small, Illy told the Volkskrant.
“But it is clear from the latest models that predict the spread of the disease that, if teenagers are not vaccinated, the number of infections will rise sharply after the summer. That increase is significantly higher than if the teenagers were vaccinated,” Illy said to the newspaper.
The ethical decision of vaccinating a large group of people against a disease that might not affect them adversely was outweighed by the prospect of enhanced social restrictions caused by an outbreak of the coronavirus infection. “It is also not good for teenagers if society again ends up in a semi-lockdown in the fall,” he said.
“Or if there is another discussion about whether the schools should be closed. We really don’t want that anymore.”
Data about side effects experienced by the age group when vaccinated also helped sway Illy’s mind. The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is approved for use in Europe for children aged 12 to 17, but the Netherlands has so far only allowed the vaccine to be used on children in certain risk categories.
The NVK has analyzed more data from the United States, Canada, and several European countries where the vaccine is used more widely.
“Thanks to that data, we now have much more insight into the very rare side effects in this age group," he told NOS. The primary rare side effect is myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, which is temporary and can be treated when doctors, patients, and parents pay attention to symptoms.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has said that he is in favor of vaccinating people aged 12 to 17. He said he will make a decision once the Dutch Health Council issues advice on the issue.