Thursday 19 August 2021

Vaccines for children

Good news! Cabinet has decided to end its prohibition on vaccinating children aged twelve and up. From 1 September, parents will no longer be banned from protecting their children against Covid. 

At least if their children are at least 12 years old. 

The Prime Minister framed it at the press conference as a difficult decision, because they're talking about other people's children.

But they've shown absolutely no similar concern about banning parents from vaccinating their children. 

I could understand her framing it as she did if she were talking about mandating vaccination for children. And I can see a very good case for mandating vaccination. But that isn't what she was talking about. She was talking about removing a prohibition that currently prevents parents from getting their kids vaccinated. 

Medsafe approved the vaccine for those aged 12 and up back in June. The FDA approved it on 10 May. We've known it's safe for over three months. Cabinet has just not seen fit to allow it to be used. There is no medical reason for it. 

I expect that the main problem has been a lack of vaccine supply. 

Because of the lack of vaccine supply, it has been convenient to consider those aged 12-16 as ineligible. All the comms on New Zealand's terrible vaccine roll-out have been around vaccination as proportion of the eligible population. One easy way of juking that stat is by artificially restricting the number of people considered eligible. If you don't have enough vaccines to go round anyway, then you can make a terrible figure look marginally less terrible at low cost. 

The ban continues for children younger than 12. 

The trials on the younger cohort are still continuing. If the FDA doesn't give a ruling on it until October, then we might not have a MedSafe determination before November, and then Cabinet extending to younger kids in December?

Given that we continue to tapdance on landmines in MIQ, and there is Covid in the community, might we consider allowing emergency authorisation for vaccinating kids younger than 12 if there is strong medical reason for it?

While risks for children on average are lower than for others, pediatric wards in the US are filled with kids with Covid. If might not make sense to make an 11 year old with co-morbidities wait the extra few months for her birthday, where the vaccine risks for 11 year olds are going to be awfully similar to the risks for 12 year olds, and delta's risks for kids seem kinda high. 

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