While fears linked to the coronavirus epidemic seem to be disappearing from the minds of the French, some doctors are worried about the extremely low rate of vaccinated children in view of the start of the school year in September.
For several weeks now, it has become difficult for a majority of French people to keep in mind that the Covid-19 remains relevant. Between the lifting of the last significant restrictions and the return of summer, the epidemic indeed seems more than ever behind us. But several scientists already fear a virulent backlash in the months to come, and in particular in the weeks following the start of the school year in September.
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In this perspective, one figure is particularly worrying: that of the rate of vaccinated children between 5 and 11 years old. “It is true that we have been insisting a lot for a few weeks on the importance of maintaining high vaccine protection for the most fragile populations. But we talk very little about children”, notes Yves Buisson, epidemiologist. In a country like France, historically more wary of vaccination than its western neighbors, this results in one of the lowest vaccination coverages among 5-11 year olds.
France at the back of the pack
According to the latest official data, only 5.2% of French children in this age group are currently vaccinated. This is less than Great Britain (7%), Switzerland (8.4%); but above all much less than Germany (22.2%), Belgium (33.3%), the United States (35.5%), Italy (38.1%)… Not to mention Spain or Canada, which have managed to have more than one in two children vaccinated.
% of children 5-11 years old who received at least 1 dose of vaccine ud83dudc47#Covid
• ud83cuddebud83cuddf7France: 5.2%
• ud83cudff4??????England: 7%
• ud83cudde8ud83cuddedSwitzerland: 8.4%
• ud83cudde9ud83cuddeaGermany: 22.2%
• ud83cudde7ud83cuddeaBelgium: 33.3%
• ud83cuddfaud83cuddf8United States: 35.5%
• ud83cuddeeud83cuddf9Italy: 38.1%
• ud83cuddf5ud83cuddf9Portugal: 48.4%
• ud83cuddeaud83cuddf8Spain: 54.5%
• ud83cudde8ud83cudde6Canada: 56.5%
— Nicolas Berrod (@nicolasberrod) May 29, 2022
“We should indeed be more worried about it”, underlines the president of the Covid cell within the Academy of Medicine. “Because indeed, we can fear that from the next start of the school year, we will have to face, if not a new wave, in any case an increase in the number of cases of infection. With the “eternal problem of class closures that this can lead to, so you might as well take the lead in vaccinating children, believes Yves Buisson. Especially since we know that it is through them that the circulation of the virus often starts again, as for the flu, and that vaccination in children has only advantages. In any case, it has almost no disadvantages.”
Always it took
For the epidemiologist, “it is always interesting to push vaccination, especially in this age group between 5 and 11 years old where there have been no significant side effects observed compared to other vaccines”. Even if France has a huge gap to make up for vaccination to have a real impact on collective immunity among the youngest, even more so with the high rate of transmission caused by Omicron.
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“So that we no longer have to worry about transmission among the youngest, we should have more than 90% vaccination among this population”, estimates the professor. Figures which seem completely illusory today, but which should not block things for all that. “It’s true that the new variants that have taken hold mean that vaccines mainly avoid severe forms and are less effective on transmission. Nevertheless, if a community is sufficiently vaccinated, the virus circulates much less than if it does not. is not at all, necessarily”.