The Dutch health council Gezondheidsraad is recommending that all children aged five to 11 be offered the coronavirus vaccine. Last week the council said it backed vaccinating children with health problems, but has now expanded that recommendation to cover all the over-fours.
Even though coronavirus is usually mild in young children, the advantages of vaccination outweigh the disadvantages, the health council said.
Health minister Hugo de Jonge said after the weekly cabinet meeting that he would accept the recommendation. MPs yesterday voted in favour of a motion giving parents the right to decide whether or not to vaccinate their offspring.
The health council said that children will have direct and indirect benefits from being vaccinated.
In particular, vaccination will slash the risk of possibly 100 to 150 children developing MIS-C, a serious multi-organ inflammatory syndrome, the council said.
‘The main advantage of vaccination is that it is likely to prevent a small group of children from developing severe COVID-19 or a serious inflammatory reaction in their vital organs that requires hospital admission,’ the council said.
The risk of developing myocarditis, an infection of the heart muscle, is also extremely low, the council said. Children aged five to 11 will be given one third of the adult vaccine dose.
Indirectly, vaccinating children will reduce the spread of the virus in schools, sports clubs and society in general, so allowing some restrictions to be eased, the council said.
The council also stressed the importance of providing clear information for parents and children and said that all forms of coercion should be avoided. ‘The decision whether to or not too take advantage of vaccination must not lead to children being kept of of school or other social exclusion,’ the council said.
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