Letter: Kids and COVID-19 Vaccines

Letter to the Editor

The FDA just approved the mRNA vaccines for children five-11 years old in spite of data suggesting this group is minimally impacted by the COVID-19 virus and that the mortality from side effects may be higher than that of the virus itself. 

The death rate in this age group for COVID is .002 percent, which, for comparison, is about half than from non-COVID pneumonia. According to the National Institute of Health Statistics (part of the CDC), 558 kids died who had COVID in 2020-21. But most of these had serious pre-existing medical conditions. If one applies the same percent of co-morbidity as for the flu (78 percent), this brings the 558 down to 123 deaths directly from COVID (.0005 percent). And some researchers argue that this vastly overstates the impact of COVID-19. 

We know that in adults the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not stop those vaccinated from catching or spreading the virus. Sadly, this means that herd immunity is an illusion. Worse, the efficacy of the vaccines wanes after several months, thus the need for a booster. On the positive side, those vaccines clearly stimulate the production of antibodies that offer real protection from serious illness and death. Kids seem to spread the virus even less than adults and almost all cases in children are so mild to require no treatment.

Just as for adults, the drug companies state that the (lowered dose) vaccines are safe for kids and offer an initial protection in the 95 percent range. But how safe is questionable. There have been no long-term studies. The vaccines are simply too new. There is much fear being generated by politicians and many rumors regarding such longer term effects, but the truth is that no one yet knows.  

That said, there are several disturbing facts we must face. First, in highly vaccinated countries in Europe (where they collect real-time data and quickly report), some are reporting unexplained spikes in adult COVID infections, occurring in both the non-vaccinated and, to a slightly lower level, vaccinated populations. Secondly, there is an unexplained increase in overall deaths (up to 30 percent) that seem unrelated to COVID. Why?  

The third issue that impacts kids especially is called “Original Antigenic Sin.” Simplistically, it means the body’s immune reaction to a virus set has a memory and seems to “remember” the first virus within that grouping that one catches. The body’s immune system thus remains focused to attack that first virus, even when a new strain appears. Consequently, while the mRNA vaccine might protect against a particular viral strain, it also may undermine the immune system’s ability to combat a future strain. Where the boundaries of this takes us is an open question that is not being considered by those recommending widespread vaccinations for the young.

Estimates suggest 40 percent to half of all children under 18 in the U.S. have already been exposed to COVID, usually asymptomatically. While the CDC and government seem to ignore natural immunity, we know from large scale Israeli and a recent Yale study that natural immunity offers up to 27 times more protection than the vaccines and that this immunity lasts three times longer. 

Personally, I would not have my own young healthy children vaccinated, but that should be decided by parents in consultation with their pediatrician, rather than politicians and educators.

Scott Dittrich