Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Should We Vaccinate Children for Covid-19? LA County Department of Public Health is All For It

In Los Angeles County, five children have died of Covid-19, .0032 percent of the children known to have contracted it.

Pfizer has submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration to approve its innovative Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 years old. At present, this vaccine is only approved by the FDA for emergency use for individuals aged 16 and older. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is solidly behind the vaccination of children. "To prepare for this change, Public Health is urging providers to consider expanding the range of vaccines they are delivering to include Pfizer." Also, the CDPH assures providers that they will break up vaccine allocations into smaller lots to make it easier for them to request and disseminate.

But what are the real dangers from Covid-19 to children under the age of 17? According to CDPH data, five children under age 17 have died from Covid-19 in Los Angeles County. This is out of a total of 154,975 known cases of pediatric Covid-19. That means the death rate from Covid-19 for children who've contracted it in this county is .00322 percent.

By contrast, 23,914 adults have died from Covid-19 in the county, out of 1,233,985 known cases. That is a death rate of .019 percent.

So in Los Angeles County, adults die of Covid-19 at almost 6 times the rate of children.

It may be useful to compare the number of pediatric Covid-19 deaths to the number of pediatric influenza deaths in a year, since the public is more familiar with influenza and regularly tolerates death from this disease every year. In both the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 influenza seasons, two children died. So one could argue that Covid-19 is far more deadly to children than influenza.

But in both cases, Covid-19 and influenza, it is difficult to know the real death rate since we don't know how many children actually contracted each disease. Covid-19 can be very mild in children and may be confused for some other illness. Influenza is so common that it is impossible to track with almost nobody reporting they have suffered from the illness. So while deaths from both illnesses are clearly known and tabulated, the death rate from the illness may be more difficult to gauge.

We do know, however, that Covid-19 is more infectious than influenza, and one might suppose that therefore more children caught Covid-19 this year than would catch influenza in a typical year. On the other hand, schools were closed and other restrictions were instituted to attempt to prevent the spread of disease. Perhaps less children caught Covid-19 than would normally have caught the flu. That would argue for a higher death rate from Covid-19 than from the flu.

But if social distancing and the closing of schools and offices really worked to prevent the spread of disease, the county wouldn't have seen over 12 percent of its population catching Covid-19. estimates that every year between 5-20 percent of the population catches the flu. A 12 percent infection rate is pretty average, then.

While the Centers for Disease Control and local health agencies advocate for children to get flu vaccines, these are conventional vaccines, approved by the FDA, and have been in use for years, with their long-term effects well known and understood. By contrast, the Pfizer mRNA vaccine is a brand-new drug using creative, but untested, technology. No long-term tests have been done on this technology, for obvious reasons.

One has to ask if a .00322 death risk is worth the unknown risk of taking a vaccine that is untested for the long-term effects on a child who may, hopefully, live many decades into the future.


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