The number of coronary infections in children has been steadily increasing since mid-October, just as in adults. Although the epidemic has intensified, there has been no increase in severe childhood disease.
In Finland vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 will soon be decided, but what are currently known about infections and serious forms of the disease in children?
The number of coronary infections detected in children has been steadily increasing since mid-October, when a total of about 4,000 infections were detected in Finland each week. Now the number has risen to about 7,000. At the same time, the proportion of people under the age of 12 who have been infected has increased: in week 46, the proportion was 27 per cent. Until now, the share has remained at 5 to 10 percent, says the chief physician Emmi Sarvikivi From the Department of Health and Welfare (THL).
“We have noticed in the past that when the incidence rises sharply among adults, the incidence rises even among children.“, he says.
The number of coronary infections detected is affected by testing activity and current test guidelines.
“The proportion of children under the age of 12 in all infections diagnosed turned to a pretty clear increase as the recommended adult testing was relaxed.”
Number of cases have increased since mid-October in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (Hus) in all age groups under 60, including children.
By mid-November, the proportion of positive PCR tests among 0- to 6-year-olds rose from 5.8% to 6.2%, from 7 to 11-year-olds from 7.3 to 10.3, and from 12 to 15-year-olds to 4.7. to 5.5. The proportion among 16–19-year-olds fell from 4.3 to 4.0.
“However, these figures do not tell us how many children in each age group get a positive result. They only tell you how many of those who apply for the test are found to be positive, ”says the pediatric infectious disease doctor. Tea Nieminen Husin from the New Children’s Hospital.
Elementary school age infections have made headlines in the past month, also due to school exposures.
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However, in the light of accumulated knowledge, school learning situations are not a source of infection. THL’s Sarvikivi also considers the school a safe place for health safety.
Most children become infected from a family, usually from an unvaccinated parent.
“Other places of infection include other close contacts such as relatives and close friends or hobbies that are in close contact indoors. Even infections related to schools usually come from a close friend and not, for example, from the exposure situation in the school classroom, ”says Nieminen.
According to Nieminen, school exposure situations and quarantine may increase the number of tests performed and at the same time the finding of asymptomatic infections.
Because some of the groups being compared have been vaccinated, that too may be reflected in applying for the test.
Read more: Finland makes decisions on coronation vaccination of children in early December – THL’s Nohynek: “It is often the case that children are extra careful”
Although the epidemic has accelerated, the serious form of the disease in children has not increased, says THL’s Sarvikivi. Getting a child into medical care is also very rare. In the Hus area, due to pneumonia, only a single person under 16 years of age has been treated throughout the epidemic.
Typically, the disease is mild in a child or adolescent and resembles the common flu symptoms: runny nose, cough, and warmth.
Have the children had enough serious forms of the disease and coronary death to make a vaccination decision from this perspective?
THL: n The National Vaccination Expert Group (Krar) is due to deliver its opinion on coronary vaccination of 5-11 year olds on the first day of December. It is still too early to say what the recommendation will be.
The decision is being considered by Krar’s working group updated coronary vaccination strategy from the point of view of both morbidity and severity and reduction of coronary events. Until now, the main purpose of coronary vaccination has been to reduce the need for hospital and intensive care, deaths and loss of life expectancy, and to maintain the carrying capacity of health care.
But have children had enough serious illnesses and coronary deaths to make a vaccination decision from this perspective?
“This is one of the issues being discussed in Krar’s working group. At this point, I cannot comment yet, ”says THL’s chief physician and Krar’s secretary. To Hanna Nohy.
According to Nohynek, in a marketing authorization study, the coronary vaccine has been effective in preventing infections and mild illnesses and mild illnesses in children. Because severe coronary heart disease is very rare in children under 12 years of age, no serious forms of the disease or coronary death were observed in the studies.
A total of 103 patients under the age of 16 have been treated in the inpatient and intensive care units for pediatric diseases due to coronary heart disease, of which 6 are in intensive care.
According to Nohynek, the majority of rare serious illnesses and deaths in children are likely to be preventable with vaccines, but these benefits must be weighed against the potential disadvantages of vaccination.
“One has to ask whether preventing a rare hospitalization case is sufficient to justify a certain number of allergic reactions or other potentially serious side effects. It must be remembered that the vaccine is a medicine and the medicines can also have side effects, in this case, for example, myocarditis and problems with the inner ear. ”
Husin Nieminen calls for peace of mind to be given to the community of experts. He does not want to take a position on vaccinating children before Krar’s decision.
However, Sen Nieminen says that it is important to consider what is meant by vaccinating children. Because vaccination does not completely prevent infection or infection, the benefits and harms of vaccinating children should be carefully evaluated. According to Nieminen, the burden of disease in children is so low that vaccination is not a matter of course. In the light of current knowledge, children cannot be considered the engine of the spread of the virus either.
Infections in children do not burden medical care, Nieminen says.
The coronavirus is still spreading mostly among unvaccinated adults, so vaccinating children would not solve the burden of hospitalization or even the spread of infections in the population, he said.
“Currently, children from families where adults are unvaccinated come to corona tests. Even if vaccination of children is started, unvaccinated adults will of course not want to be vaccinated for their child, and thus within non-vaccinated families, the infections will continue to spread and the viral cycle will continue, ”says Nieminen.
“Throughout the epidemic, it has been said that if you want to protect your child under the age of 12, take vaccines because the child is most likely to be infected from home. This is still true. ”
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