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The majority of federal and state health agencies have generally concurred with the belief: “Let us achieve ‘herd’ immunity then talk about children.”

As the Delta variant rages nationwide, many experts believe, from a public health perspective, most children do not suffer symptoms from any form of COVID-19 and therefore mass vaccinations would be costly with little benefit.

In May, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Canada became the first country to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use among 12–15-year-old children. The Pfizer vaccine was given the green light for this population by the United States Food and Drug Administration; European Medicines Agency (EMA): Chilean Institute of Public Health; Japan Health Ministry; and the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines later that month. Throughout June, Singapore; China; Israel; Dubai; and Brazil, began administering the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 12-15.

Multiple health authorities, including the WHO, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend that children and teenagers receive any COVID-19 vaccine allowed for emergency use as soon as it is available to their age group.

According to the WHO, children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults, so unless they are part of a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions and health workers.

The WHO has said more evidence is needed on the use of different COVID-19 vaccines in children to be able to make general recommendations on vaccinating children against COVID-19.

“This vaccine is administered in two doses, given three weeks apart. Children are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose. The Pfizer vaccine can also be safely given with other childhood vaccines,” they said. However, the EMA’s human medicines committee has authorized emergency use of the Moderna vaccine, also referred to as Spikevax, in children between 12-17 years.

WHO officials added that, generally, children experience mild side effects similar to adults after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. These include fatigue, mild fever, muscle aches, and soreness at the injection site.

Rare cases of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, have been reported to the CDC since April. WHO officials also said confirmed cases have mostly occurred among males aged 16 years or older within three days after the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). The rate among males aged 12-29 years was 40.6 cases per one million second doses. Among females of the same age group, it was 4.2 per one million second doses.”

“Symptoms of myocarditis include chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. Most cases were mild and resolved quickly. No fatalities have been associated. As of July, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices advises that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of heart problems. The EMA’s recommendations are in alignment with the CDC’s,” according to WHO officials.

In addition, the experts said the authorization in the European Union differs from American administration of the vaccine. In Europe, the schedule for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine for this population is determined by the discretion of EU member states. For example, France has begun vaccinating children ages 12 years and older, but Spain anticipates starting to offer vaccination by the middle of this month.

Even though China approved emergency use of Sinovac Biotech’s (SVA.O) COVID-19 vaccine in people aged between three and 17, WHO urged wealthy countries to donate their surplus doses to poorer countries instead.

The WHO said COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to children under 12 years old, as safety trials for this population have only recently gotten underway.

“Researchers are evaluating the smallest dose needed to produce an immune response. Since younger children are undergoing key stages of growth, scientists are taking additional precaution to evaluate the long-term effects of COVID-19 vaccines on development,” they said.

“Researchers anticipate that vaccines for children 6 months and older will be available by late 2021 or early 2022. Children who are unvaccinated or too young to receive the vaccine are urged to continue preventive measures, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing their hands,” according to WHO researchers.