WHO: COVID-19 vaccines for children and other vaccine novelties
WHO: COVID-19 vaccines for children and other vaccine novelties

WHO: COVID-19 vaccines for children and other vaccine novelties

  • More than 11 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been given and the focus is shifting to children in many countries.
  • The World Health Organization’s lead researcher explains how safe COVID-19 vaccines are for children.
  • The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations has given hope that vaccines against other bacteria will be accelerated – but how likely is it and which diseases are targeted?

More than two-thirds of the global population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 by mid-May 2022 – with more than 11 billion shots in weapons.

The speed with which COVID-19 vaccines have been created and rolled out has been unprecedented, but inequalities persist. While 66% of people had been vaccinated at the time of writing, only 16% of those in low-income countries had received at least one dose.

In many countries, the focus has now shifted to vaccinate children in an attempt to further limit the spread of coronavirus. The success of COVID-19 vaccines also raises hopes for the creation of other vaccines to slow the transmission of and even eradicate other diseases.

A chart showing the proportion of people vaccinated against COVID-19, 15 May 2022

How the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines differs around the world.

Image: Our world in data

But is it safe to vaccinate children against COVID-19, and what other vaccines are on the way? Two experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) explained the latest science in five videos.

Why should children be vaccinated against COVID-19?

The WHO recommends that children over the age of five receive COVID-19 vaccinations for three reasons, says WHO chief researcher Dr. Soumya Swaminathan: To protect children from becoming ill, reduce infection in the community and enable economies and educational institutions to remain open without the risk of having to shut down.

All parents care about their children’s health and safety, adds Dr. Swaminathan, but most healthy children and adolescents do not get sick even if they get COVID-19.

There are some children at higher risk for severe coronavirus disease, including those who have underlying neurological conditions or diseases such as obesity, diabetes, severe asthma and upper respiratory diseases. A percentage of people continue to have ‘post-COVID syndrome’ or ‘long COVID’.

“This can be fatigue, headaches, different types of symptoms that sometimes last for weeks or months,” says Dr. Swaminathan.

In rare cases, some children may get an inflammatory disease called MIS-Cso it is good to protect children from COVID-19, he adds.


“The WHO examines the dossiers provided by the companies and provides a list of emergency use. At this time, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is approved for children over five years of age and the Moderna vaccine is approved for children over 12 years of age. years, ”explains Dr. Swaminathan.

Dossiers from other companies are currently being examined by the WHO, but many countries have approved different vaccines for use in children based on their own regulators who have examined the data on safety and efficacy.

“It is best to follow the country’s guidelines because they have all looked very carefully and have made sure that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks,” adds Dr. Swaminathan.

“So far from the millions of children who have been vaccinated around the world, we know that side effects are very rare.”

Children can get fever and pain at the injection site, as well as pain in the body that lasts a day or two, just like adults.

I 2000, Gavi, Vaccine Alliance was launched at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos with an initial pledge of $ 750 million from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The goal of Gavi is to make vaccines more accessible and affordable for everyone – no matter where people live in the world.

In addition to saving an estimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years, through the vaccination of almost 700 million children, Gavi has most recently secured a life-saving vaccine against Ebola.


At Davos 2016, we announced Gavi’s partnership with Merck to make the life-saving Ebola vaccine a reality.

The Ebola vaccine is the result of many years of energy and commitment from Merck; The generosity of the Federal Government of Canada; leadership of the WHO; strong support for testing the vaccine from both NGOs such as MSF and the countries affected by the outbreak in West Africa; and the quick response and commitment of the DRC’s Minister of Health. Without these efforts, it is unlikely that this vaccine would be available for several years, if at all.

Read more about the Vaccine Alliance and how you can help improve access to vaccines globally – in our Impact history.

What other vaccines are being developed following the success of COVID-19 vaccines?

There is a whole pipeline of vaccines under development against other diseases, and they fall into two main categories, says WHO’s dr. Katherine O’Brien.

“The first is vaccines against bacteria that we do not have vaccines against. The primary ones we are pursuing in that group are vaccines against RSV.

“It is a virus that is one of the most common causes of serious lung disease in young children and infants. It gets through in waves on an annual basis in pretty much every country around the world.”

Group B strep is another bacterium for which there is currently no vaccine. It is a bacterium that causes serious infections in young infants and can lead to death.

“This is an important goal to prevent meningitis in infants and protect the life of newborns,” says Dr. O’Brien.

The second category is where existing vaccines are improved, for infections including tuberculosis, influenza and second-generation COVID-19 vaccines.


Will these vaccines be tracked quickly?

“We continue to call the development of COVID-19 vaccines ‘unprecedented’,” says Dr. O’Brien, but we should not necessarily expect the pace of all future vaccine development to go so fast.

For COVID-19 coordinated and collaborated worldwide, both in vaccine manufacturing companies and in academic and other research institutes.

Funding for the development of COVID-19 vaccines was unparalleled before, and the infrastructure for clinical trials around the world was transferred to facilitate research.

“There was this one goal that everyone was pursuing.”

The good news is that people are learning from the clinical development of COVID-19 vaccines and looking at the steps that can be shortened or run in parallel. So it may be possible now to reduce the time, effort and investment it takes to make life-saving vaccines available.

Why do vaccines not always result in vaccination?

“It is commonly said that vaccines do not save lives, vaccinations save lives. A vaccine is really not beneficial if it is on the shelf and is not actually implemented,” says Dr. O’Brien.

There are several reasons why vaccinations do not happen even though vaccines are available. These include:

Convenience of services. They may not be available at a time, place or distance where it is easy for busy people, especially mothers, to take their children or teenagers to be vaccinated. This can also be a problem for older adults.

Vaccine hesitation. People who are opposed to vaccination are a small proportion of those who are not vaccinated. And usually they operate under some misinformation that has been shared with them, says Dr. O’Brien. But some people may be hesitant because they have questions about how safe vaccines are.

“Vaccines stimulate your body’s natural immune system to develop protection against the germs that are actually being vaccinated [against]. So when you can be exposed to that bacterium in the future, in real life, your body already has a defense. “


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