By Zachary Stieber and Jan Jekielek
Children should not get vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Harvard University professor of medicine Martin Kulldorff.
“I don’t think children should be vaccinated for COVID. I’m a huge fan of vaccinating children for measles, for mumps, for polio, for rotavirus, and many other diseases, that’s critical. But COVID is not a huge threat to children,” he said on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program. The full episode can be watched on EpochTV.
“They can be infected, just like they can get the common cold, but they’re not a big threat. They don’t die from this, except in very rare circumstances. So if you want to talk about protecting children or keeping children safe, I think we can talk about traffic accidents, for example, which they are really at some risk.
“And there are other things that we should make sure [of] to keep children safe. But COVID is not a big risk factor for children.”
Vaccinating older people and people of all ages with compromised immune systems against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, has drawn support from most medical experts. But vaccinating healthy young people, particularly children, has triggered more opposition, in part because of how little risk COVID-19 poses to them.
Children are more likely to contract serious disease or die from the annual influenza, or the flu, than COVID-19, according to data and studies that Kulldorff has reviewed. Just 195 children under the age of 4 and 442 between 5 and 18 have died from COVID-19 in the United States as of Oct. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are 15 times less likely to be hospitalized with the disease than individuals who are 85 or older, and 570 times less likely to die, the agency says.
“One example is from Sweden, during the first wave in the spring of 2020, which affected Sweden quite strongly,” Kulldorff said. “But Sweden decided to keep daycare and schools open for all children ages 1 to 15. And there are 1.8 million such children who got through the first wave without vaccines, of course, without masks, without any sort of distancing in schools.
“If a child was sick, they were told to stay home. But that was basically it. And you know how many of those 1.8 million children died from COVID? Zero. Only a few hospitalizations. So this is not a risky disease for children.”
When weighing whether to vaccinate children, the risk of vaccine side effects must also be taken into account, Kulldorff said. The main risk to young people seen so far is heart inflammation, which has occurred post-vaccination at much higher than expected rates. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a warning label to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the summer about myocarditis and pericarditis, two types of heart inflammation.
“If you’re 78 years old, then it’s the no-brainer, in my view, because the benefits are so great that even if you have a small risk for some adverse reaction, the benefit far outweighs the risk,” Kulldorff said. “On the other hand, if you have already have immunity from having had COVID, then the benefits of the vaccines are much, much smaller. If you’re a child, even if you haven’t had COVID, the risk of serious disease or death is minuscule … So it’s not at all clear that the benefits outweigh the risks for children.”
Kulldorff was speaking ahead of an FDA advisory panel meeting. Members on Oct. 26 decided to advise drug regulators to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between 5 and 11. They said the benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as the predicted decrease in hospitalizations, outweighed the risks, including estimated incidence of myocarditis.