Health agencies will not authorize the vaccine against covid-19 to minors under 18 years of age. The reason: the clinical tests carried out so far by the laboratories have only evaluated the effects of the immunizing agent in adults. The measure, however, can be revised in 2021.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex is due to present today the vaccination strategy against covid-19 in France. However, it is already known that children and adolescents will not be immunized, at least in the first phase of the government’s plan.
The French High Health Authority has made a list of different groups of the population that will be vaccinated, starting with elderly people living in nursing homes. In all, the campaign will have five phases throughout 2021. But so far, younger people are not part of the government’s plan.
According to the vice president of the French Vaccination Technical Commission, Daniel Floret, the decision is based on the priority of the population to be immunized. “Children contract the disease a little and it does not have much importance in the transmission chain. Adolescents become slightly more contaminated, but they generally develop benign forms. Clearly, the young categories are not part of those most at risk,” he says, in an interview with newspaper Le Parisien.
Due to the rare cases of covid-19 among minors, pharmaceutical companies are not focusing their efforts on this group. The infectologist and coordinator of the National Council of Pediatrics in France, Robert Cohen, says that the decision “is classic”.
“It is normal that, whether for a new vaccine or a new drug, a clinical trial does not start with a population of children and adolescents, for whom the long-term consequences of the product are more difficult to assess. We always start with adults “, the specialist reiterates to the newspaper Le Parisien.
In addition, the authorizations requested by the laboratories that develop the vaccine against covid-19 from health agencies are made for the category “adults”. In order to be able to distribute a vaccine that is injectable in children under 18, a special license is required.
Therefore, most countries must make the same choice, although the age may vary according to each country. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Independent Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency has given the go-ahead for immunization “over 16”.
Decision may be revised in 2021
Vaccination conditions for minors may be reviewed next year, due to studies that will assess the effects of immunizers on children and adolescents. “Depending on the data produced, health agencies will eventually be able to review their positions in the coming months,” reiterates Floret. According to him, it will first be necessary to observe what will happen to adults when the drug is used en masse.
“If their safety is excellent, they have no side effects and if they protect themselves strongly from contagion, the question of the interest of immunization for young people will be put on the table,” he says. After all, the expert recalls that, while the tests today show a high efficacy of vaccines in populations over 18 years of age, “it will be necessary to wait a while to comment on children and adolescents”.