Some 100 medical professionals have expressed opposition to vaccinating children with the coronavirus vaccine and separating between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
“We believe there is no room for vaccinating children at this time [due to] caution, modesty, the understanding that ‘haste is from the devil’; the recognition that we do not understand everything about the virus and the vaccine against it; and the first commandment of medicine: ‘First, do not harm,’” they said in a letter to the Health Ministry on Sunday.
They acknowledged that the Pfizer vaccine has prevented serious coronavirus infection and mortality in children. But they said children do not usually experience severe symptoms from the coronavirus, and the long-term possible side effects of the vaccine, even if rare, would only be known after years of study.
It is also unclear how long immunity from the vaccine lasts, which variants it works against, how often booster shots will be needed and what the far-reaching implications of the periodic immunization on the immune system and the evolution of the virus could be, they wrote.
The prevailing view among the scientific community is that the vaccine cannot lead to herd immunity, meaning there is no justification for vaccinating children, they added.
Some Israeli health officials have said the vaccination campaign has provided Israel with herd immunity in recent weeks.
The authors of the letter said vaccinating children is not appropriate at this time because putting even a few children at risk of unknown side effects is not worth the protection it will afford them against a disease they say is not dangerous to children.
At-risk populations should be vaccinated, and a return to routine should occur under an almost complete vaccination of the population, the signatories wrote. But children should be allowed to return to routine without needing the vaccine, and separations between vaccinated and unvaccinated people should be removed, they added.
The “risk of the vaccine is not zero,” Prof. Itamar Grotto, former deputy director-general of the Health Ministry, told Army Radio on Monday. “We need to tell parents that the vaccine is recommended and good, but also leave more space for their considerations.”
“According to my personal opinion, the entrance of children to various locations should not be dependent on showing a green pass,” he said.
Prof. Shlomo Vinker, chief medical director of Leumit Health Care Services, said the authors of the letter should remember that infection rates in Israel are only falling because of the massive vaccination campaign. Nine children had died from the coronavirus, and 120 children had entered intensive-care units, including 60 had suffered cardiac syndromes, he told Army Radio on Monday.
“It’s important to know the facts,” he said.