WHO says children, teens are 'low priority' for COVID vaccines

"The low priority group includes healthy children and adolescents aged 6 months to 17 years," the WHO said in a news release.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization updated its Covid-19 guidance in light of rising immunity levels in the population.

The revised roadmap separates people into three priority-use groups: high, medium, and low. While the group is still urging elderly and immunocompromised people to get vaccinated and boosted, young healthy people have been deemed "low priority."


"The low priority group includes healthy children and adolescents aged 6 months to 17 years," SAGE said in a news release. "Primary and booster doses are safe and effective in children and adolescents. However, considering the low burden of disease, SAGE urges countries considering vaccination of this age group to base their decisions on contextual factors, such as the disease burden, cost effectiveness, and other health or programmatic priorities and opportunity costs." 

The group went on to note that the public health impact of vaccinating healthy children and adolescents against Covid-19 is "comparatively much lower" than it is with other, more essential jabs such as the rotavirus, measles, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. 

SAGE did, however, explain that the risk posed by the virus to infants under six months "is still higher than in children aged 6 months to 5 years," thus, "vaccinating pregnant persons – including with an additional dose if more than 6 months have passed since the last dose – protects both them and the fetus, while helping to reduce the likelihood of hospitalization of infants for COVID-19."

Children with "immunocompromising conditions" were also separated, and moved into the high-priority group.

In October, the the Center for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unamimously to add Covid-19 vaccines to its child and adolescent immunization schedule.

The schedule is largely taken to be a rough guide, however a number of states require that it be followed. The move was criticized by some, who pointed out the relatively low risk the virus poses to young people, as well as the myriad potential side effects.


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