Covid France: More research needed before under 12s are vaccinated
There is not yet enough data to understand the effect of the vaccine on younger children, France’s Director General of Health said. What are other countries’ policies?
Children under 12 will not yet be vaccinated against Covid-19, as is the case in nearly all other countries around the world Pic: Ira Lichi / Shutterstock
The French Covid-19 vaccination campaign will not yet be extended to under-12s, and will instead concentrate on those aged 12 and over.
Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon said: “we are not in favour of vaccinating children for a variety of reasons: because we lack the scientific data, because research is still in progress.
“We will adapt based on the evolution of our scientific understanding.
“Today the priority is to vaccinate adolescents over 12-years-old,” he added in an interview on BFMTV on September 5.
The vaccination of children has proved a controversial issue in France, with slogans such as “Touche pas à mes enfants" (“Don’t touch my children”) appearing repeatedly during anti-health pass protests.
Children over 12 are not obliged to get vaccinated, but if they are not and a member of their collège or lycée class tests positive for Covid, they will have to self-isolate and continue their studies remotely while their vaccinated peers can continue to attend in-person lessons.
Adolescents aged 12 and over will also be required to show a valid health pass in order to enter a range of public spaces including restaurants, sports facilities, cinemas and non-urgent medical appointments [for example at hospital and clinics] from September 30.
We look at the policies of other countries with regards to vaccinating children and teenagers.
In the UK, healthy children under 16 are not currently eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination.
The government is yet to issue a final decision on the possibility of rolling out the vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds, but on September 3, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised against the idea.
“The assessment by the JCVI is that the health benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms,” it said.
“However, the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds at this time.
The chief medical officers of the four UK nations will now have the final say on the matter after considering the wider impacts on schools and society.
“Of the very few children aged 12 to 15 years who require hospitalisation, the majority have underlying health conditions,” the JCVI said, adding that it has recommended the expansion of the list of vulnerable children to be offered the vaccination.
This means that an additional 200,000 children with underlying health conditions will be offered the jab.
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children over the age of 12 get vaccinated against Covid.
President Joe Biden also suggested in July that the results of vaccine trials for children under 12 would be revealed in the autumn, potentially allowing the campaign to open up to that age group as well.
Adolescents over the age of 12 are being invited to get vaccinated in Canada.
Clinical trials are underway to determine whether any available Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective in children under 12 and if they might need smaller doses.
The Irish government approved the use of Covid vaccines for children aged 12 and over in July.
Germany has been offering the Covid vaccination to children over 12 since August.
Since August, all young people aged between 12 and 18 have been invited for their Covid vaccination in Italy.
Ahead of the September return to school, Italy's coronavirus emergency commissioner General Francesco Figliuolo even requested that all the Italian regions fast-track these adolescents through the system, allowing them to get vaccinated without a prior appointment.
Every Belgian child over the age of 12 has been eligible for vaccination against Covid since June.
In Israel, children over 12 were invited for their Covid vaccination in June, and are now required to show a “green pass” in order to enter non-essential venues such as restaurants.
Now that pupils are returning to school, the government is also planning to carry out vaccination drives in secondary schools.
Children aged between five and 11 at risk of serious health complications can also get vaccinated as of July.
Cuba is the first country in the world to open its Covid vaccination campaign to healthy children below the age of 12. From September 15, children over the age of two will be able to get vaccinated against Covid.
Other countries such as China and Venezuela have also suggested that they will soon be vaccinating younger children, although they have not yet acted upon these plans.