The Sweden Public Health Agency on Thursday announced that it had opted against following some western countries in endorsing vaccination against COVID-19 for children 5-11 years old.
Administering shots in that age group wouldn’t have a major effect on the spread of COVID-19 and would offer little medical benefit to the individual children receiving them, the agency said in its guidance for the upcoming spring term.
“With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” agency official Britta Bjorkholm told reporters. The decision may be revisited if new information becomes available or a new variant of the virus changes the risk-reward analysis for vaccinating children.
Sweden’s decision is contrary to a trend toward countries approving vaccination of younger and younger children, especially with COVID-19’s Omicron variant spreading rapidly.
Such counties as Germany, France, Italy and Spain have approved jabs for children as young as 5.
In the US, chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters on Wednesday that he expects three-dose regimens to eventually be approved for children as young as 6 months old.
Proponents of vaccinating children have argued that even though risks of serious illness or death from COVID-19 are relatively low in young people, they can spread the virus to more vulnerable segments of the population.
Swedish health officials, however, argue that vaccinating small kids would entails no great benefit – either to them or to the people around them.
“A general vaccination from the age of 5 is also not expected to have any major effect on the spread of infection at present, neither in the group of children aged 5–11 nor among other groups in the population,” the Public Health Agency said.
Sweden was one of the few countries that opted against a full-scale lockdown at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.