The issues related to vaccination against COVID-19 in children and adolescents are complex and, within the framework of technical recommendations, the available scientific data were analyzed for a well-founded benefit-risk assessment.
The General Directorate of Health has to highlight:
- Children and adolescents generally have mild illness after SARS-CoV-2 infection, with an extremely low risk of hospitalization (less than 0.3%) and death (less than 0.002%).
- Some children and adolescents, such as those with certain chronic illnesses, are at greater risk of developing severe COVID-19.
- Mass vaccination of people aged 16 and over is expected to have a positive impact on younger populations. This situation is dynamic and may change in the face of a possible emergence of new variants of concern.
- In the age groups corresponding to young adults, there are still many people to be vaccinated.
- According to the Second National Serological Survey (for SARS-CoV-2), carried out by the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA), it is estimated that, in the age group 12-15 years, that makes 409,873 people, those susceptible to infection correspond to 3.5% of our population.
- There are two vaccines against COVID-19, Comirnaty® and Spikevax®, which are approved for use in people 12 years of age and older.
- The evaluation of a safety signal by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is ongoing, associated with the occurrence of very rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after the administration of these vaccines.
- Episodes of myocarditis and pericarditis reported to date have occurred mainly in young males and continue to be studied.
- People with these myocarditis and pericarditis are usually hospitalized and have a benign clinical course, with neither risk factors nor medium/long-term consequences being known.
- These effects in children and adolescents have not yet been reported in the European Union, as vaccination in these age groups has only recently started in some countries.
- The COVID-19 pandemic harmed children and adolescents, their education, development and mental health, well-being and social life, especially the most disadvantaged.
The Technical Commission on Vaccination against COVID-19 (CTVC) took into account the advice of a group of experts in pediatrics, child health and vaccination, as well as available scientific data, to recommend a vaccination strategy for adolescents aged 12-15 years old.
Thus, the General Directorate of Health, after hearing the CTVC and other entities and specialists:
- It reiterates the importance of continuing vaccination against COVID-19 for people aged 16 years and over, pursuant to DGS Rule 002/2021, to cover those in which the highest number of cases of COVID-19 currently occurs.
- It recommends priority vaccination against COVID-19 for adolescents aged 12-15 years with comorbidities associated with an increased risk of serious disease.
- It will issue recommendations on universal vaccination of adolescents aged 12-15 years as soon as additional data on vaccination of these age groups becomes available.
- It considers that the possibility of access to vaccination should be given to any teenager aged 12-15 years, by medical indication, according to the schedule of the vaccination campaign.