The Cyprus Paediatric society on Friday recommended to immediately include 12 to 15-year-olds in the coronavirus vaccine programme, saying that 20 per cent of coronavirus cases in Cyprus concern children.
The recommendation was issued prior to an expected announcement of additional measures after a cabinet meeting.
“The benefit of vaccinating this age group far outweighs any potential risks,” the society said, adding that the benefits are even more significant for minors who belong to vulnerable groups.
The society said it reached the unanimous decision to back vaccinations for children aged 12 to 15 during a meeting of the board of directions the previous day.
Currently, 16 and 17-year-olds can get vaccinated in Cyprus with the permission of both parents or their guardian. If the national vaccination plan expands to children of younger ages, parental permission must also be required, the society said.
In the middle of summer, Cyprus is experiencing the fourth wave of the pandemic, the announcement said, due to the prevailing Delta variant of Covid-19, which has been said to be highly infectious to people of all ages.
Cases in Cyprus exceeded 100,000 since the pandemic outbreak, with 20 per cent of those being children, of whom the 53 per cent are aged 12 and younger.
“Although the majority of child [coronavirus] cases are mild, the possibility of serious complications from Covid-19 infection (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome – MIS-C, which is more severe in adolescence or long Covid syndrome) is real,” the society added.
The announcement said the majority of hospitalisations concern unvaccinated people, hence it is expected for children to also be infected.
Explaining their decision, the society cited the reopening of schools with physical presence in September, and highlighted the need to make the school environment as safe as possible.
It added that the decision to vaccinate teenagers aged 16 and 17 was taken because that age group is more socially active, and they might come into contact with elderly people as well. However, they might also come into contact with younger children, thus increasing the chances of virus spread, the society said.
Another reason was the prevention of development of additional variants.
The society said that there is “accumulated experience” from the use of approved mRNA vaccines in children aged 12 and older is a sufficient number of countries.
The USA has so far administered 9,000,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to children while the only serious reported side effect was the rare possibility of developing myocarditis with the statistics currently standing at 1 to 4 in every 100,000 vaccinations.
The vast majority of vaccinated children showed mild symptoms once they contracted the virus, the society added.
So far, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for administration to children aged 12 and older by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).