Last week, Dutch Health Minister, Hugo de Jonge, said he was in favour of vaccinating children down to the age of 12. However, he was waiting for a verdict from the Dutch Health Council before making any official decisions. Now he’s got the answer.
The Health Council — an independent scientific advisory body to the Dutch government — recommends that all healthy children between 12 and 17 years of age (who want to) should be vaccinated with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, reports the NOS.
There’s been a debate in the Netherlands about whether it’s ethical to vaccinate children. Because of this (and the possible side effects of the vaccine), the Dutch health services have hung back and watched how the vaccination of kids went in other countries, such as the US.
After carefully studying the data from the US, Dutch pediatricians concluded that the advantages of vaccinating children outweigh the disadvantages — both for the children and for society as a whole.
Why vaccinate children?
The Dutch Health Council lays out a number of direct and indirect benefits of vaccinating the younger age group.
Firstly, the vaccine protects those children who risk developing severe health problems from the coronavirus. In rare cases, these can include an inflammatory reaction that requires hospitalisation and intensive care.
Secondly, if children are vaccinated, that’ll mean more time with friends and at school without too much worry. An added benefit of this is that they avoid the negative (mental) health effects of quarantine.
Finally, vaccinating 12 to 17-year-olds will alleviate the risk of contamination on the grand scale — meaning that we might be looking forward to a more restriction-free autumn and winter as well!
Possible side effects
Despite all the advantages, there is still a number of side effects that might be linked to the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. However, the Dutch Health Council judges that these are mostly minor and shouldn’t hold back the vaccination of children in the Netherlands.
What do you think of the Netherlands vaccinating children? Tell us in the comments below!