Science Board to consider giving vaccine shots to children aged 5-11
The Turkish Health Ministry’s Science Board will look into whether the COVID-19 vaccine could be administered to children aged between 5 and 11 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Advisory Committee recommended the Pfizer/BioNTech jab for this age group.
“We will discuss this issue at the board’s next meeting. However, it does not mean the vaccine will be started to be given as we need to see first how the pandemic affects children, severe cases and hospitalization rates among children,” said Professor Ateş Kara from the Science Board, which advises the government on the coronavirus outbreak.
Kara noted that more and more cases are seen among children. “Adults are getting the shot. This is becoming the pandemic of unvaccinated,” he said.
The FDA is yet to give its formal approval.
According to Professor Mehmet Ceyhan, a leading expert in infectious diseases, a study showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 90.7 percent effective among children.
“Children should definitely be vaccinated. Cases are on the rise due to the Delta variant of the coronavirus. More children are being hospitalized and receiving treatment in intensive care units,” Ceyhan said.
Ceyhan also warned that the overall pace of the vaccination drive had lost momentum.
“On average, the daily number of the COVID-19 jabs given is around 15,000. We are further drifting away from our target of vaccinating 80 percent of the population,” Ceyhan said.
Each day some 200,000 people, who have had two doses of the Sinovac vaccine but skipped the third dose, are losing their immunity against the coronavirus, Ceyhan warned.
Around 2.8 million people in the country have not yet received the third dose, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said after the Science Board meeting on Oct. 27, noting that the board insists that people get the booster shot.
“The vaccination determines the pace of the pandemic. The number of cases has remained high for weeks, but, unlike the previous periods, this time around, daily infections do not show sudden and rapid increases,” Koca explained, adding that this was thanks to the inoculation drive.
Members of the board expect the number of daily cases to decline soon, the minister said.
Koca also noted that the vaccination rate among pregnant women is low.
“Deaths among expectant mothers rose some 52 percent last year from 2019. The situation is no different this year. Deaths in this group due to COVID-19 increased 50 percent this year, and 99 percent of those were unvaccinated,” he said.