President Joe Biden wants 70 percent of American adults to get at least one shot of the Kovid-19 vaccine during the July 4 holiday, and has made vaccinating teenagers an important part of the country’s next phase of immunization campaigns.
But targeting American teenagers is a controversial move among many experts, who argue that using the world’s limited supply at low-risk populations is a grave mistake while epidemics grow in countries such as India and Brazil.
Pfizer and its partner BioNotech said their two-dose intake in March was shown to be safe and highly effective in testing 2,260 12- to 15-year-olds.
An Emergency Use Authority is expected in the coming days, and Biden told White House reporters on Tuesday that “if that announcement comes, we’re ready to move immediately.”
The President’s address comes as the country’s vaccination campaign comes to a standstill after cutting the peak in early April.
More than 56 percent of adults have received one or more shots, but as lift rates fall, authorities are devising new ways to reach vaccine hold-outs.
Biden said it included discounts to shoppers vaccinating at grocery stores, promotions for fans in sports stadiums and more vaccines at rural health clinics.
The federal government is working on a program with pharmacies and pediatricians nationwide to reach an estimated 17 million 12-to-15-year-olds in the country.
However, many experts have raised concerns whether now is the right time to reach this group as the global situation is deteriorating.
The issue of vaccine inequality has been rapidly brought to attention by India, which on Tuesday registered 350,000 new cases and around 3,500 deaths anywhere in the world.
“The overwhelming majority of 15-year-olds, we know, are not at risk of serious complications from COVID,” said ER doctor Craig Spencer, director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at Columbia University.
He said, “It’s completely raging around the world and we’re talking about how we’re going to vaccinate an incredibly low-risk population, when healthcare workers around the world are heavily The majority is zero protection, ”he said.
Priya Sampatkumar, chair of Infection Prevention and Control at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said that it was America’s best interest to export more vaccines, beyond an ethics problem.
“Told more people in the US are not helping us if the variants in India, Nepal and South Asia get out of control and reach our shores,” he told AFP.
The US has promised to drop up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but experts believe much more can be done.
UCSF physician and epidemiologist Vinay Prasad told AFP, “I think if you vaccinate children from 12 years to 15 years in the United States, you are getting vaccinated globally.”
He said that Israel’s experience showed that it is possible to achieve a “significant reduction” in cases without targeting teenagers.
Sampatkumar pointed out that the main reason for vaccinating adolescents is to reduce transmission – a goal to which he agrees, although with declining US cases, it is a question of time.
Statistics show that children are at very low risk from severe Kovid.
In the United States, the under-18s accounted for a total of 277 deaths, a slight difference of 574,000, according to the latest official figures.
A rare, but severe post-viral disease has led to 36 more deaths from multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children.
Still, low risk is no risk, and pediatrician Lee Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, welcomed the introduction of a vaccine for children.
He said that teenagers “have an important tool in our toolbox for safe return to schools,” adding that “may increase comfort for many families and school staff.”
Data collected by data company Burbio show that 67.1 percent of American school students are attending schools in person, while 29.6 percent are in “hybrid” set-up combinations in in-person and remote classrooms, and 3.3 percent are learning virtually Huh.
But Jennifer Nujo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said the government’s own research showed that it is entirely possible to reopen schools safely without vaccines.
“This is just another barrier wrongly erected to put children in the path of return to education,” she emphasized.
Nuzzo said that global hotspots should be a priority.
“It’s not good for children in the long run if we just let the virus spread uncontrollably around the world,” she said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)