Report: No Side Effects in Israeli Children Vaccinated Due to Risk Factors

Israelis receive a COVID-19 vaccine, at a vaccination center in Yerushalayim. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Israel has vaccinated dozens of children against the coronavirus under the age of 16 who suffer specific risk factors, with no serious side effects reported, Yediot reported on Thursday.

The Health Ministry has recommended vaccinating some teenagers between the ages of 12-15 against coronavirus if they suffer from specific risk factors.

According to the report, the children approved by medical authorities for vaccination had known risk factors including obesity, diabetes, severe lung and heart disease, immunosuppression disorders and cancer. A child of a parent with a severe immunosuppression disorder was also vaccinated.

Each individual case received approval from the child’s doctor and healthcare organization before it got the final approval from the vaccine committee at the Health Ministry.

The Leumit health fund has vaccinated 11 children, Clalit 31 and Meuhedet 55. The Maccabi health fund also said it had vaccinated dozens of children.

Israel’s decision came despite the global recommendation against inoculating anyone under the age of 16 due to the lack of clinical trials on that population.

Infection among children and school re-openings are a central concern during Israel’s third-wave virus outbreak. Children represent a larger proportion of infections than earlier in the pandemic, possibly due to new virus variants and the fact that a significant percentage of adults have been vaccinated.

The issue of vaccine hesitancy and skepticism is also a growing concern as Israel’s world-leading inoculation campaign has slowed in recent weeks, and a recent poll showed the issue could become more acute with the question of vaccinating children.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has emergency approval for use in people 16 and older, but a clinical trial for children 12 to 15 has started. It’s expected the drug maker could seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for that age group in the first half of this year.

Moderna has also started trials for children 12 and up, but says it is unlikely to have data on younger children until 2022.

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