COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 5 to 11
The Health Council concludes, based on the currently evidence, that for children aged 5-11 years the health benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 outweigh the potential harms and burdens.
Vaccination is likely to prevent a small group of children from developing severe COVID-19 or a serious inflammatory response in the vital organs (MIS-C) requiring hospitalisation, or even intensive care. While it is not possible to give a precise figure for the number of children affected, the Health Council estimates that there may be 100 to 150 cases of MIS-C without vaccination. In addition, the pandemic has an indirect negative impact on children's health: limited access to school, sports and social contact with peers, for example, can lead to poorer (mental) health outcomes and social-emotional development, as well as learning disadvantages. Vaccination can partly prevent this, although to what degree is uncertain.
The Health Council concludes that the health benefits compensate for relatively limited harms and burdens. Most children will experience short-term fatigue, headache, muscle pain or fever after vaccination. The Health Council estimated that the risk of rare side effects, such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) is very low.
The Health Council stresses the importance of providing clear information for parents and children and of avoiding all forms of inducement. The Health Council believes that parents’ decision whether or not to have their child vaccinated against COVID-19 must not result in the exclusion of children from school or social activities.