Features Australia

Are the kids OK?

On the cost-benefit analysis of vaccinating the young

11 December 2021

9:00 AM

11 December 2021

9:00 AM

On Sunday, Ben Madgen who plays football for Southeast Melbourne Phoenix tweeted that he ‘ended up in the emergency room on Wednesday night after taking the second Pfizer shot’ and had been diagnosed with pericarditis. The doctor told him, ‘This is now common after the Pfizer shot, especially with teenage boys and young males’.

Undaunted, last Sunday, Professor John Skerritt, the head of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), announced the provisional approval of the Pfizer paediatric Covid vaccine for 5-11-year-olds.

The TGA admits that both the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines cause inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) and the tissue sac around it (pericarditis), but Skerritt claims that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks. In that, he follows the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which made the same claim.

Both justify vaccination in this age group because of the incidence of Multi-System Inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a new disorder, which Skerritt says occurs in one in 3,000 children who get Covid. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated an average incidence of 1 in 3,164 but the rate varied; it was only 1 in 7,246 in New York. Skerritt says the risk of myocarditis in teenage boys and young men is much lower, only 6-11 cases per 100,000 or 1 in 9,090 to 1 in 16,666. But is this correct? A just published peer-reviewed study in Hong Kong found the rate among male adolescents in Hong Kong was much higher, 37.32 cases per 100,000 after the second doses. That’s an incidence of 1 in 2,679.

What Skerritt also ignored is that MIS-C doesn’t occur randomly. A US study published in the Lancet, showed that 26 per cent of children who got MIS-C were obese, 41 per cent were Hispanic, 36 per cent were black and only 14 per cent were white.

A just published German study also found that MIS-C was less common with the Delta variant and shows that not a single healthy child aged 5-18 died in Germany during the first 15 months of the pandemic. In fact, those aged 5-11 have the lowest risk of hospitalisation and the ICU admission rate was 1 per 50,000. Of the children who died of Covid, 38 per cent were already in palliative care. British researchers have reported similar findings, that only six healthy children, out of 12 million aged up to 18, died of Covid.


Skerritt says parents can rest assured because the vaccine is already being rolled out in some millions of children in the US and elsewhere. But just last week in Vietnam, three children died and 120 were hospitalised after being immunised with Pfizer’s vaccine and in the US, a healthy 8-year-old girl had a stroke.

With all this on the downside, what are the benefits of the vaccines? Skerritt admits ‘there’s no real data’ yet on how rapidly the immune response decays. That’s because Pfizer tested its vaccine on only 3,000 children aged 5-11 and followed most of them for only a few weeks to two months after the second dose. In fact, there is every reason to believe that it will fade just as quickly as in older children and young adults.

Health minister Greg Hunt was quick to add that, ‘if there were paediatric boosters required, because of the depth of contracts we have, we are in a position to meet all of the needs under all of the scenarios in Australia’. Yet why give kids short-lived vaccine immunity when we know from more than 100 studies that natural immunity is far more robust and enduring.

Health authorities in other countries have sounded an alarm about vaccinating children.

In Britain, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation didn’t give its approval to the vaccination of healthy children aged 12-15 despite ‘huge pressure’ from politicians because it determined that danger of heart inflammation posed by vaccination, particularly to boys, was greater than the ‘marginal’ risk that Covid poses to healthy children.

Finnish health authorities have said that children aged five to eleven should be vaccinated only if they or someone in their household is at high risk of severe infection.

Dr Harvey Risch, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Medicine said recently ‘there will be way more deaths caused by the vaccines than the number of deaths in healthy kids that are occurring. There’s no motivation, there’s no rational reason to give this in kids that age’.

Skerritt says vaccination for 5-11-year-olds is not mandatory, but Victoria is already excluding children aged 12 years and older who are not vaccinated from shops and restaurants. New York City is the first place in the US to demand proof of vaccination children aged 5-11 at indoor dining and entertainment. Hunt says he hopes that ‘everybody would have access to schools and community events but that it’s a matter for states and territories’.

Earlier this year, parents in Victoria were told that children as young as 12 could get vaccinated without their parents’ consent if a health professional assessed that they were mature enough to give ‘informed consent’. Will that apply to children who are 11 or 10 or 5?

Skerritt blithely says he ‘was talking to the number two at the FDA just the other day, and they’re not seeing any red flags’. That’s hardly surprising. Pfizer provided 329,000 pages of documents to the FDA about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. It took the FDA only 108 days to read the submission and approve the vaccines. Yet despite repeatedly promising ‘full transparency’, the FDA has asked a federal judge to grant it 75 years to disclose the Pfizer submission. In 2096! What has it got to hide? Risch is one more than 30 professors and scientists from America’s most prestigious universities that has sued the FDA to disclose the documentation in 108 days – the same time it took the FDA to approve the vaccine.

Myocarditis is usually referred to by the TGA as ‘mild’, but it always damages the heart because the cells don’t regenerate, they scar, reducing the efficiency with which it pumps. There have already been 693 cases of myocarditis reported to the TGA following vaccinations with Pfizer, two of them fatal, and 1,471 cases of pericarditis. There were 37 cases of myocarditis and 73 cases of pericarditis reported following Moderna vaccinations and one 14-year-old girl died, seemingly of a stroke. Of those 2,274 cases, 356 occurred in teenagers aged 12-17.

Is it worth it for a few months of immunity?

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
Close