Covid-19: increasing incidence rate, increase in cases among children under 10… should children be vaccinated?

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France is currently facing an epidemiological rebound. The circulation of the virus is accelerating, especially among children under 10 years old. What revive the question of vaccination against the virus in children to stop the epidemic dynamics.

Two weeks after the return to class of children in France, contamination linked to Covid-19 is on the rise again in France. Yes, the start of the new school year seems to be linked to the epidemiological rebound that the country is currently experiencing

According to the latest data communicated by Santé Publique France, the incidence rate is increasing not only among children under 10 (+9% in one week), a sign that the epidemic recovery seems to be characterized in French schools. “It is a particularity of Covid-19, explains Pascal Crépey, teacher-researcher in epidemiology at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health, with The Midi Dispatch. It spreads first among the younger age groups.”

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The following ? “A pyramid effect”, punctuates the epidemiologist. Older age groups are gradually affected by the virus. For health authorities, who wish to stem the epidemiological dynamic, this information is particularly important. The question is asked: should we then relaunch the vaccination of children in France to stop infections?

From what age can you get vaccinated?

In practice, in France, children over the age of 5 are authorized to be vaccinated against Covid-19. “The vaccination campaign has been extended to all children aged 5 to 11 since December 22, 2021, explain the health authorities. Since January 25, 2022, the agreement of a single parent is sufficient to vaccinate children. children from 5 to 11 years old.

The vaccine administered to children is the pediatric form of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, three times less dosed than the adult form of the vaccine injected into people over 12 years of age.

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In theory, children under the age of 5 are not allowed to be vaccinated against the virus. But according to the latest figures from Public Health France, 6,203 children aged 0 to 4 years have received at least one dose of vaccine. How to explain it?

There “are recommendations, in particular from the Strategic Orientation Council on vaccination, and from certain pediatricians, on the vaccination of children at very high risk of severe Covid-19, indicates Public Health France to our colleagues from TF1. This concerns in particular children with primary immune deficiencies, transplant patients (marrow, organs), children who may be undergoing chemotherapy, who are carriers of trisomy 21 or who have very severe underlying pathologies.

For the time being, only Canada authorized, on September 9, children under 5 years of age to benefit from a specific vaccination against the virus.

Vaccines that protect against infection?

However, vaccinating children against Covid-19 – whatever their age – only makes sense if the vaccines used today make it possible to protect against contamination and to stem the epidemic dynamics. And this is not the case… “For the moment, vaccines only protect against serious forms of the disease”, explains in our columns Professor Élisabeth Bouvet, president of the technical commission on vaccination at the High Authority for health (HAS).

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The vaccine landscape must therefore be reinvented. In this regard, Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna have announced bivalent vaccines adapted to variants of the Omicron family for the fall. It remains to be seen whether the latter will make it possible to protect against contamination: “If this is the case, this would make it possible to break the epidemic dynamics, comments Pascal Crépey. We should then consider extending the vaccination recommendations to the rest of the population. ” And so, no doubt, to children under 5 years old…

For now, more than 143,000 children under 10 have received a first dose of vaccine in France. The vaccination of children remains very little followed in the country: only 3.5% of children aged 5 to 9 years and 10.1% of 10-11 year olds received a first dose of vaccine.

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