Health Council advises Dutch government to vaccinate 12 to 17-year-olds
The Health Council of the Netherlands has advised the Dutch government to offer the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to all young people between the ages of 12 and 18. The first group (born 2004) will be able to book an appointment from 10 am on July 2.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge supports plan to vaccinate young people
A number of GPs and members of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) and National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) had already voiced their support for vaccinating children and teenagers.
"I would like to offer young people, just like adults, the opportunity to be vaccinated against corona, because they too have felt the consequences of the pandemic over the past year and a half," Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Wednesday.
The RIVM had already sent out vaccine invites for vulnerable 12 to 17-year-olds (born between January 1, 2004, and June 30, 2009), but the latest advice will see everyone in this age group issued an invite.
RIVM and Health Council hope to reduce risk of fourth coronavirus wave
“Although cases of COVID-19 are usually mild in children and adolescents, the virus can also cause problems for them,” the Health Council writes, highlighting the fact that, in rare cases, young people could develop a severe inflammatory reaction that requires hospitalisation (MIS-C), or that they could suffer from long covid.
“Vaccination will lead to less virus circulation among this age group and will therefore lead to a smaller chance of restrictive measures being enforced,” the latest advice goes on to say. The Health Council is hopeful that vaccinating young people will result in fewer school closures.
Similarly to the RIVM, the Council believes vaccinating as many children and teenagers as possible will reduce the risk of the Delta variant spreading in the Netherlands and lower the chances of a fourth coronavirus wave in the autumn / winter.
EMA continues to investigate efficacy and safety of Pfizer vaccine
Back in May, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in America recommended that everyone over the age of 12 should be vaccinated against COVID-19, and that they could receive the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. Germany has also already opened up appointments so everyone over the age of 12 can be vaccinated, meanwhile Pfizer and BioNTech continue to investigate the efficacy and safety of their vaccine among young people.
The Health Council does recognise both the advantages and disadvantages to vaccinating 12 to 17-year-olds, saying that there have been cases of mild and short-term side effects after vaccination, as well as reports of inflammation of the heart muscle. However, it remains unclear to what extent these conditions occur as a result of the Pfizer vaccine. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) continues to investigate the safety of Pfizer, but the Health Council believes there is no reason to advise against vaccinating children and teenagers.
Mixed responses from teenagers across the Netherlands
Teenagers up and down the country have had mixed responses to the news, but many are pleased to hear that they too will finally be able to be vaccinated. “I want to be vaccinated so that I can walk around feeling safe, and so I can better protect others around me,” 16-year-old Dianne told the NOS.
However, 16-year-old Mandy feels government policy manipulates young people into feeling they have to be vaccinated, saying her freedom will be limited if she chooses not to get the vaccine. One 14-year-old also told the NOS that they were worried about potential long-term side effects.
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