COVID-19 has impacted our lives in such a way that no one could ever have imagined. The introduction of mRNA vaccines like Pfizer & Moderna have enabled the world to fight against the pandemic quite effectively.

These vaccines have provided immunity and helped prevent re-infection to a certain extent. However, the latest variant of Omicron has spread quite vigorously, affecting all age groups, especially children. It is generally believed that children have very high immunity, so the virus does not affect them much. For example, they get away with a mild fever, flu, or cough. This claim is valid because of the genetic mutation the virus has undergone, but the number of kids hospitalized due to COVID-19 has increased a lot with the Omicron variant.

Studies Regarding Hospitalization

Medical experts analyzed 79,000 kids who were COVID positive and concluded that the hospital visits surged by 29% in case of Omicron virus. This study has also defined Omicron as more contagious than the delta variant. However, the use of ventilation for kids has dramatically decreased. So the question arises: if Omicron isn’t causing serious illness and most children cope well, why do we need a vaccine for the kids in the first place?

Why do we need a vaccine for children?

The simple answer lies in the fact that the increased hospitalization rate will cause a burden on the pediatric health system. Another reason for the increasing number of children affected is that the number of vaccinated children is very low worldwide. Over 7,000 kids and teenagers contracted COVID and developed a rare but potentially serious condition known as a multisystem inflammatory syndrome that killed seven thousand kids and teenagers in the U.S. since the pandemic. Therefore, vaccines can help immensely reduce the occurrence of symptoms and complications.

Let’s look at the various vaccines and their subsequent effects on children.

The CDC has gathered data from various states to know whether the vaccine is working effectively or not.

Pfizer was given to children aged 5 to 17 years, and experts studied and examined its efficacy to compare it to non-vaccinated children. The CDC reported that between April and early January, there were at least nine deaths related to Covid-19. These deaths were among vaccinated children between the ages of 5 to 17 compared to the 121 deaths caused among unvaccinated children. CDC also evaluated the hospitalization rate of vaccinated kids vs. non-vaccinated kids. Last January, the vaccine showed 74 percent effectiveness against hospitalization in 5 to 11-year-olds. Only two of the vaccinated children were hospitalized compared to fifty-nine unvaccinated children. The vaccine proved to be approximately 92-94 percent effective against hospitalization in cases of 12 to 15-year-olds and similarly 16 to 17-year-olds. The Pfizer vaccine gave 52% accuracy in preventing emergency room visits by kids ages 5 to 11. That was similar to the 45 percent effectiveness for ages 12 to 15 that had gotten the second dose a few months earlier.

Studies Related to Moderna

Moderna’s two-dose COVID vaccine had been 44% effective at stopping the spread of infection from Omicron in children aged six months to 2 years old. According to data that was released, it is about 38% effective for children aged 2 to 5 years old.

Children less than five years of age are the only ones left in the United States who are not eligible to get COVID vaccination. Therefore, hospitalizations in these kids with COVID were around five times higher during the peak of Omicron in January than last year’s delta wave that spread across the world. CDC collected this data, and it emphasizes that vaccine is no doubt a breakthrough in preventing infection, and unvaccinated kids are more prone to getting the COVID infection.

Study in Israel

Israeli kids vaccinated against the coronavirus are getting the Omicron variant at least half as much as the unvaccinated kids.

This study, which is thought to be the first of its kind, is helpful for Israeli people as it highlights the importance of vaccination in kids. The research took children aged 5-11, a group that became eligible for vaccination in November. The study found that the vaccines offer strong protection against coronavirus, especially in the first months after administration.

COVID-19 and Unvaccinated Kids

The Omicron variant continues to spread, and children younger than five are still not eligible for vaccinations, leaving many families in distress and thinking of the best way to live everyday life with a constant threat.

A lot of children have unfortunately died from COVID in the United States and most of that occurred during the spread of the Omicron variant of the pandemic.

Vaccination is important because children are more likely to be affected by the increasing risks of Covid-19. Previously, masks were mandatory, but there is a drop in masked children. The vaccination rate is very low among children; therefore, the virus is spreading at alarmingly increased rates.

Since January started, almost 179 children have died from Covid-19 in the United States compared to 735 children in the last 20 months. This analysis is done according to the data collected from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The figures mainly involve the age group from 0-to 17, and the data was gathered from May 2020 to early March 2022.

Moderna chief officer, Dr. Paul Burton, has stated that their team has completed a study on kids aged less than five years. Pfizer is expected to be available for this age group from April, most likely. These vaccines will help children fight the virus and lead to less severe illness if it occurs due to COVID.

Guidelines for Unvaccinated Children to Protect from Omicron

Here are a few things that parents of unvaccinated kids and the kids themselves can do to protect them from Omicron.

  • Upgrade the masks your kids wear

Masks are quite protective against COVID. However, all families cannot afford the N-95 mask. Another thing is the best fit for the mask. If the mask is ill-fitting, it is not going to protect.

If the child is experiencing persistent symptoms, the best choice is to carry out rapid tests and make sure your child is isolated if he becomes positive.

  • Limitation of close contact outside the home as well as school

Try to mingle with fewer people as this variant is highly contagious. Try avoiding peers outside the school.

  • Keep necessary supplies in your home in case of illness.

If your child contracts the Omicron virus, be prepared to fight the disease. Keep supplies at hand related to symptoms. These include medicines and nebulizers.

  • Quarantine for the time allocated

Kids who develop COVID should quarantine for a time allocated to slow down the spread of the virus.

Take-Home Message

Omicron is a highly contagious variant, and it affects all age groups equally. However, kids are an integral part of our future, and they should be well protected from the virus. And, we must work with the industry and health regulators to come up with the safest form of a Kids’ vaccines that can be made available immediately. This will ensure our young children stay protected as Omicron continues to mutates into its various sublineages.

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