COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 6 months to 6 years
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recently approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccines of Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer as a primary vaccination in children aged 6 months to 6 years. The Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport has requested the Health Council of the Netherlands to advise on the use of mRNA vaccines in this group.
Research shows that vaccination in children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years ensures a good immune response. However, the level of protection likely decreases after a few months. It is not yet known to what extent vaccination actually protects children younger than 6 years against COVID-19 or severe COVID-19. The experience gained until now indicates that the vaccines are sufficiently safe. Side effects are usually mild and short-lived.
The burden of disease due to COVID-19 is low in the majority of children between 6 months and 6 years of age. The risk of developing a severe disease such as MIS-C is also low because a large proportion of young children have already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection. MIS-C rarely occurs in case of a subsequent infection. This is why the Health Council believes that vaccination offers a limited benefit for most children aged between 6 months and 6 years. For others in this peer group who are at increased risk of developing a severe course of COVID-19, vaccination does offer a benefit because it can reduce the risk of hospitalisation. Therefore, the Health Council recommends that only this group should be offered COVID-19 vaccination with one of the two mRNA vaccines. This includes, for example, children with Down’s syndrome or with severe heart, immune system or lung disorders.