The Corner

Health Care

A Theory on Juvenile COVID Vaccines

A student wearing a protective mask, attends class on the first day of school, amid the coronavirus pandemic in Florida, August 18, 2021. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Dr. Fauci is out there implying that you should wear masks around your children until they can get vaccinated. That’s interesting. The U.S. is notable for our rush toward vaccinating five to twelve year olds.

Countries such as Denmark have given up all restrictions on public life because they have achieved, through voluntary means, a vaccination rate it deemed sufficient to end the public-health emergency of COVID. They vaccinated 12-15 year olds and there is no rush to go lower. Spain also approved a vaccine for 12-19 year olds. France, 12-17 year olds. But Germany only recommended vaccinating 12-15 year olds with underlying health conditions. The U.K.’s joint committee on vaccination and immunization recommended against a COVID vaccines to 12-15 year olds universally, again, offering them only to the immunocompromised. They’ve now expanded that to offer, on a voluntary basis, a single Pfizer shot to 12-15 year olds. In Norway only one dose is offered to young teenagers. In Sweden vaccines are only recommended for 12-15 year olds who have “lung disease, severe asthma or another high-risk medical condition.”

Yet, everyone who is enthusiastic about our public-health leaders is confident that approval will come for a full vaccine regime for children ages 5-12 in the United States. I think they are right, and I think so because there is such a strong demand for it. But, looking at all these peer nations, I can’t help but wonder if the demand in the United States for juvenile vaccinations is driven by the fact that the United States is a global outlier for the non-pharmaceutical impositions we’ve placed on childhood during the COVID era. We closed schools more and for longer. We mask children more and we mask them younger than virtually anywhere else in the world, and far beyond the recommendations made by the World Health Organization.

It is, I think — but of course cannot prove — that the demand for COVID vaccinations of young children in the United States was induced and partly created by our unusual persistence in treating children as if they were in more danger than they are. Our mask guidance for kids is the strictest in the world. So our demand for vaccines is highest. My theory is that we’re holding our own kids hostage.

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