The number of COVID-19 cases afflicting children and paralyzing the activities of certain schools comes to breathe new life into one of the best news of the week: the imminence a messenger RNA vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, if Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) give it their approval.
The most recent “national collection” of data from schools with active cases diagnosed with COVID-19, carried out by the Ministry of Education, offers a picture that could not be more eloquent: of the 3000 or so schools (primary schools, secondary schools, adult training, public and private networks) in Quebec, just over 800 had at least one active case of coronavirus as of Tuesday September 21.
No wonder, say experts, who predicted that going back to school in person coupled with no vaccination in children and the rise of the contagious Delta variant was inevitably going to lead to an increase in cases in those under. 12 years.
Data unveiled by Public Health confirms this upward trend. In the week of September 19, of the 1,606 new cases of COVID-19 declared, the largest contingent came from the unvaccinated group of 9 years and under, with 24% of the sick.
In the clinics intended for screening tests, we have recently seen a reappearance of a fauna of regulars: lines of parents and toddlers who find with ill-contained joy the nasal swab! The recurrence of cold symptoms brings the test back in force. This week, schools had to close due to outbreaks of COVID-19 cases, the increase of which is favored by the absence of “class bubbles”, this concept abandoned this year in the very laudable aim of facilitating the resumption of social contacts between students.
This rise in the number of cases is worrying, although children, as science has shown, are less seriously ill when infected with SARS-CoV-2. But this better batting average does not exempt them from the relevance of being vaccinated, on the contrary.
First, because even though fewer children are seriously ill, children can be affected by a more serious form of the disease. The case of the United States, where pediatric emergencies are filled with young patients, continues to strike the imagination. A recent study conducted in Israel, where 5 to 11 year olds at risk of developing serious complications have been eligible for the vaccine since 1is August, shows that 11% of children who contracted COVID-19 continue to have symptoms after the acute phase of the disease, suffering from what some call long-lasting pediatric COVID-19.
But also because the vaccination of children will have a beneficial and direct effect on the immunity of the whole of society: it will reduce the risk of transmission in more sensitive populations posed by the carriers of the disease, which are children. If the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available for 5-11 year olds sometime in the fall, possibly soon followed by Moderna’s, the population of Quebec will be even better protected. While companies are beginning to consider a return to work in “face-to-face”, even if it is a hybrid mode combining teleworking and occasional visits to the office, the vaccination of children will constitute an additional asset for employees. feel secure.
Obviously, it will be up to parents to decide whether or not to immunize their children against COVID-19. As we know, there is already a reluctance among some parents to have children vaccinated against diseases as serious as measles, whooping cough or mumps. Alongside stubborn myths and prejudices, such as the link between vaccination and certain conditions, there is also an impression among some parents that vaccines are unnecessary since these diseases are no longer present. There is nothing more twisted as a view of things: these diseases are less present than in the past precisely because of the collective immunity guaranteed by vaccines. To reduce this protection would be to open the door to the return of certain diseases with serious consequences.
The reluctance of these parents is therefore also to be expected for the vaccine against COVID-19, at a time when we also see in adults a slice of irreducible stubbornly refuse the vaccine – and continue to attend hospitals in large numbers after have contracted the virus, let us remember.
Let us hope that vaccinated children constitute a vast majority. It is for the protection of all of us.