The World Health Organization has released an update to its official guidance on vaccinating kids and teenagers against Covid-19. The agency now says that its vaccine experts believe that children without any health problems may not need to be vaccinated against the virus.
According to the agency, it provides guidance so that healthcare providers can prioritize vaccines for those at greatest risk, and children are the lowest priority as they usually suffer from a mild illness, with many experiencing no symptoms at all.
The Covid-19 pandemic affected children in a multitude of ways, with many unable to access education or see friends and family for months at a time. Previously, the advice had been that kids and teenagers should get vaccinated, but the advice varied between countries.
As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been milder than previous strains and countries now have higher levels of immunity due to vaccination and infections, the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has announced new streamlined recommendations for high, medium, and low-risk groups.
For high-risk groups, like pregnant women, older adults, and front-line health workers, SAGE has recommended that booster doses should still be given every 12 months.
The recommendations for medium-risk groups, like children with other health conditions and younger adults, the agency has recommended a course of vaccinations followed by a booster dose but has advised that no more routine boosters are needed.
Children aged six months to 17 years are considered to be low risk as long as they don’t have any other health issues, and SAGE has recommended that healthcare providers think carefully before offering vaccines, as it may not be cost-effective or necessary.
In a press release, the agency said: “The public health impact of vaccinating healthy children and adolescents is comparatively much lower than the established benefits of traditional essential vaccines for children – such as the rotavirus, measles, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.”