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Sweden decides against vaccinating children aged 5-11

Sweden has decided against vaccinating children aged 5-11 according to the country’s Health Agency. It said on Thursday that it would not recommend children’s vaccines for this age group because the benefits of vaccination did not outweigh the risks.

Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm told a news conference that there was ‘no clear benefit’ of vaccinating children against Covid-19.

“With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them.”

Britta did however add that the decision had the potential to be revisited if the research changed or if a new variant emerged. Children who are considered high-risk are already offered the vaccine in Sweden.

In Sweden, everyone aged 12 and over is offered Covid-19 vaccination.

Each region determines how they handle consent when vaccinating minors. Whilst some regions send a consent form in connection with the booking, others make a maturity assessment at the time of vaccination.

In October, the Swedish Public Health Agency decided to suspend the use of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine for everyone born in 1991 or later after data pointed to an increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis among younger age groups who receive Spikevax.

The decision not to vaccinate younger children comes as Sweden’s government on Wednesday extended restrictions, which included limited opening hours for restaurants and an attendance cap for indoor venues, for two weeks but said it hoped to remove them on Feb. 9.

In Ireland, children aged 5-11 are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, a decision which sparked division. Parental consent will be needed for children to get vaccinated.

The HSE has urged parents to bring their children forward for vaccination as the decision to authorise vaccines for 5-11 year olds was announced earlier this month.

“Though serious illness from Covid-19 is rare in this age group, they are even less likely to become seriously ill with Covid-19 if they are vaccinated,” the HSE said.

“All vaccines are tested before they are approved for use in Ireland by the European Medicines Agency,” it added.

This month, it was reported that one in 2,500 children who received the Covid-19 vaccine reported a suspected side effect.

Most were mild to moderate and many ‘had resolved or were resolving’ according to The Irish Times.

A total of 269 reports of suspected side effects have been made after administration of the Pfizer vaccine, the Health Protection Regulatory Authority (HPRA) said on this month. This figure related to the delivery of 659,000 doses to under-18s up to January 11th 2022.

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