HÀ NỘI — The extensive vaccination of children aged 12 and above helps reduce the disease burden and the risk of new variant emergence, potentially by reducing viral transmission, Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Việt Nam, said in an interview with Vietnam News Agency.
Park spoke highly of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health's vaccination scheme, saying: "The Ministry of Health emphasises the importance of accelerating vaccination for adults as first priority, especially health workers, older people, and those with co-morbidities."
This is in line with WHO recommendations, he stressed.
Regarding the ministry officially allowing COVID-19 vaccinations in children aged 12-17, with those aged 16-17 to get the shots first, the WHO official said extensive vaccination of children 12 years old and above will reduce disease burden and the risk of new variant emergence, potentially by reducing viral transmission.
According to Park, WHO has granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine COVID-19 vaccine for use in adolescents (children above the age of 12).
WHO is urging manufacturers who have completed data on their vaccines to submit the data to WHO for review to increase vaccine availability for children and adolescents.
As adolescents and children with comorbidities are also at significantly higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease, they may be offered vaccinations.
Park also called on everybody to continue to implement the 5K message and other public health interventions.
In addition, children should be guided to inform parents or caregivers if they feel sick. “Individual prevention measures of adults are also important in protecting children, preventing the transmission of the virus from family members,” he added.
Studies are ongoing regarding the frequency and risk of COVID-19 in children and adolescents, according to Park.
"We know that children and adolescents of all ages can become infected and transmit the virus; however, developing evidence suggests that younger children may be less susceptible and children, in general, are less likely to suffer from severe disease and death following COVID-19 infection compared with other age groups.
"The recently released Global Vaccination Strategy has included adolescents (children above the age of 12) as a key group in achieving 70 per cent vaccination coverage. Therefore, once all high risk groups are fully vaccinated, vaccination of adolescents (those ages 12 and above) can be done to reduce disease burden and the risk of new variant emergence," Park affirmed. — VNS
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