Thousands of long-term COVID cases in children could be prevented if they were given two doses of the vaccine, a study suggests.
Children between the ages of 12 and 15 in the UK are now being offered a single dose of the Pfizer jab to reduce the chance of contracting and transmitting the disease.
But a new study looked at children ages 12 to 17 who received both injections and concluded that the benefits outweighed the risks “unless the case rates are sustainably low.”
The research, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, examined rates of hospital admissions, intensive care support and death among children in England with the virus.
Also looked long COVID-19 estimates, vaccine efficacy rates, and potential risk of cardiac inflammation.
As of September 15, approximately 680 out of 100,000 children ages 10-19 were contracting coronavirus each week.
The study said that if this were increased to 1,000 per week, full vaccination of 12 to 17-year-olds could “prevent 4,430 hospital admissions and 36 deaths over 16 weeks.”
However, if the cases were reduced to 50 per 100,000, then about 70 admissions and two deaths could be avoided during the same period.
“The benefit of vaccination in terms of adolescent hospitalizations outweighs the risks unless case rates are consistently very low (below 30 / 100,000 adolescents / week),” the study said.
“Given the current high case rates in England, our findings support the vaccination of adolescents against SARS-CoV2.”
Thousands of potential long-term COVID cases could also be prevented, the study suggested.
The authors said double vaccination would prevent 56,000, 16,000, or 8,000 cases (based on long-term COVID rates among 12 to 17-year-olds of 14%, 4%, and 2%).
A small study of schools in England has suggested that more than one in 10 secondary school students have suffered ongoing symptoms after contracting COVID.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey estimated that 12.3% of students reported symptoms more than four weeks after being infected.
Lead author Dr Deepti Gurdasani, Queen Mary University of London, said: “This analysis shows that, on clinical risks alone, vaccination is justified for 12-17 year olds in England.
“As we hope to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children, the precautionary principle advocates protecting all children from exposure to this virus, and vaccination is a crucial part of that protection.”