What does the WHO say about children getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Question: 
What does the WHO say about children getting the COVID-19 vaccine? 
 
Answer: 
First, it’s important to note that the World Health Organization (WHO) plays an important role in providing recommendations globally, not regionally. This means the WHO prioritization for immunization at a global level may be different than that of Canada or BC because they have to look at the “big picture” world wide. 
 
The current WHO statement on immunization of children, youth and adolescents says:
Children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults/elders, so unless they are part of a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions and healthcare workers.  
This statement reflects the fact that, as a global community with limited vaccine supply, it is more urgent to immunize people most at risk around the world, such as older people and elders, those with chronic health conditions, and healthcare workers before we turn our attention to immunizing those who are less at risk. 
 
We are fortunate in BC as we have already offered vaccines to all our healthcare workers and those who are at risk. Our supply of vaccines means that we have been able to continue to vaccinate the general population too. While we continue to provide the first dose, we have moved on to providing dose 2 for those that are eligible. Since we have vaccinated the majority of our population and still have vaccines, we can offer vaccines to people who are less at risk, like young people and youth. This is a privilege that much of the world does not have, which is why the WHO recommendation focuses on vaccinating those most at risk. 
 
We also know that there have been studies done looking at safety and effectiveness in children down to age 12. Health Canada has approved these vaccines as safe and effective in those age groups, and they are an important age group for us in terms of protecting our communities. That decision has been made in Canada and in many other countries. The WHO agrees with the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine in this age group.
 
If we look at what has happened in the UK and in some other countries where they have not prioritized immunizing youth, (especially teens), we know that transmission can happen. Teens are a group of our population that is very highly connected, so we can get a lot of transmission very quickly in young people. That's why as Dr Bonnie Henry says, immunization is so important to protect communities, because once there is transmission in young people, we can get transmission to older people and elders, and to people who are more likely to have severe illness and end up in hospital. We see that even in highly protected communities.
Read more here.
 
Date last reviewed: 
Wednesday, Jul 14, 2021