Should we delay covid-19 vaccination in children?
Experts say the net benefit of vaccinations for children is not clear. Instead, experts recommend that vulnerable people around the globe be prioritized in the BMJ magazine.
Others contend that covid-19 vaccinations have been approved by the FDA for some children and that they should not be considered as a disadvantage due to policy decisions that prevent global vaccination.
Andrew Pollard, Ilora Finnlay, Dominic Wilkinson and Ilora Wilkinson believe that any health system offering vaccines to children must ask two crucial ethical questions. First, are the benefits greater than the risks? Do you think someone else might need the vaccine if the vaccine becomes scarce?
"Careful attention to both of these questions suggests that we shouldn't roll out covid-19 vaccine to otherwise healthy kids."
They acknowledged that covid vaccines are more beneficial for older adults than the side effects. Children with chronic or acute severe illnesses, such as cancer, should be able to get a vaccine. "But it's impossible to know for certain in children who are otherwise healthy."
However, they state that there is one thing we can be certain of: in the UK, some people are at greater risk from covid-19 than children who are healthy. The majority of low-income countries have less than 5% of their citizens fully vaccinated.
Some may wonder why we need to choose. Is it possible to vaccinate both children at home and overseas? There are only a few vaccine doses available right now, so it's not clear.
"As adults we have had to wait our turns for the vaccine. We understood that vaccines are scarce so we had to wait for our turn. But it is not yet their turn.
Lisa Forsberg, Anthony Skelton, and others believe that children should be vaccinated against covid-19 to protect them and others from infection. This is the best way for children to feel well and to minimize any disruptions or restrictions to their lives caused by insufficient management of infection spread.
They argue that the argument that covid-19 infection is less common in children and so they are more likely to be seriously harmed, and therefore, a vaccine protecting them from it, would be incorrect.
"It exposes children at unknown risks to severe diseases and long-term health complications. Furthermore, it is now clear that children who are exposed to such risks cause disproportionate harm to already disadvantaged children.
Another argument to delay vaccination of children, is that older adults in developing nations where vaccine supply is limited should be given priority.
However, they also pointed out that the current global shortage of vaccine supply is a result policy choices.
"The ethically logical choice is to apply all pressure necessary to minimize vaccine hoarding and distribute vaccines in developing countries while simultaneously releasing patents and allowing for the production and supply of vaccines on a larger-scale to allow vaccination of all children," they write.
They believe that accepting an "austerity" narrative that children have to wait until the most vulnerable citizens in other countries can get vaccinated is a distraction from the real problem. Profits are valued more than life. They conclude, "Here, like elsewhere, we are failing our responsibilities in order to avoid aggravating injustice."