WHO Eases Vaccination Guideline For Healthy Children And Adolescents
The World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) revised the roadmap for prioritizing the use of Covid-19 vaccines to reflect the impact of Omicron and high population-level immunity acquired by infection and vaccination.
WHO experts recommended that healthy kids and teenagers are considered as “low risk” category and may not necessarily need vaccine against the viral disease.
“Countries should consider their specific context in deciding whether to continue vaccinating low risk groups, like healthy children and adolescents, while not compromising the routine vaccines that are so crucial for the health and well-being of this age group,” SAGE Chair Dr Hanna Nohynek said after the experts group’s latest meeting.
“Updated to reflect that much of the population is either vaccinated or previously infected with COVID-19, or both, the revised roadmap reemphasizes the importance of vaccinating those still at-risk of severe disease, mostly older adults and those with underlying conditions, including with additional boosters,” she added.
The roadmap newly considers the cost-effectiveness of vaccination for those at lower risk – namely healthy children and adolescents – compared to other health interventions. The roadmap also includes revised recommendations on additional booster doses and the spacing of boosters.
A press release issued by the WHO says the evidence on the extent of the impact of the current vaccines’ reduction of post-Covid conditions is inconsistent.
The revised roadmap outlines three priority-use groups for Covid vaccination: high, medium, and low.
The high priority group includes older adults, younger adults with diabetes and heart disease; people living with HIV and transplant recipients) including children aged 6 months and older; pregnant women; and frontline health workers.
For the high priority group, SAGE recommends an additional booster of either 6 or 12 months after the last dose, with the timeframe depending on factors such as age and immunocompromising conditions.
The medium priority group includes healthy adults – usually under the age of 50-60 – without comorbidities and children and adolescents with comorbidities. SAGE recommends primary series and first booster doses for the medium priority group. Although additional boosters are safe for this group, SAGE does not routinely recommend them, given the comparatively low public health returns.
Though low overall, the burden of severe Covid infection in infants under 6 months is still higher than in children aged 6 months to 5 years.
SAGE also updated their recommendations on bivalent Covid vaccines, now recommending that countries can consider using BA.5 bivalent mRNA vaccine for the primary series.
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