Time for calm debate on COVID-19 vaccinations for children

The Delta variant of COVID-19 appears to be more of a threat to children and young people than previous Covid strain, so how should Australia respond?

AMA Vice President Chris Moy has called for an early community discussion about children and of COVID-19 vaccinations to be conducted calmly. He told ABC TV on Sunday it was a very intense and emotive issue but important to discuss as decisions, approvals and recommendations from the TGA, ATAGI and federal government continued to come through.

Dr Moy’s comments followed approval by the TGA last week of the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds. Dr Moy said it was now up to ATAGI as to what it would recommend to government in relation to the approval. Dr Moy told the media the under-12 cohort also needed to be considered even prior to TGA approvals and said the AMA was looking at the whole issue of vaccine prioritisation of children.

He said unfortunately Delta did appear to be more of a threat to children than previous strains, with more children and young people getting infected and sick. He said with intense community debate now happening on social media platforms there was a need to have measured conversations about vaccinations before decisions were made.

Dr Moy said there had to be community discussion about any small risks of the Pfizer vaccine for children versus the much higher risks of of COVID-19, especially Delta. He said debate should also include ethical questions such as whether vaccinations were intended to protect children or just to get to herd immunity and the protection of others – and whether children should be prioritised when the risk was still lower and when many parts of the world desperately needing vaccinations for their vulnerable adult populations.

Dr Moy said advice and decisions about children and vaccinations should not be made seemingly out of the blue by authorities as this would contribute to anxiety.

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