Italian paediatricians answer 10 most common doubts among parents about Covid vaccine
Italian paediatricians talk about the Covid vaccine. Why vaccinate children against Covid-19? And then: is the vaccine safe? Does it protect against variants? Are there any side effects?
These are some of the questions most frequently asked by parents to paediatricians since the administration of Covid mRNA vaccines has been authorised for the 12-15 age group
“If many families have breathed a sigh of relief, there are many others who are perplexed and worried,” explains Elena Bozzola, paediatrician and advisor to the Italian Society of Paediatrics (ISP).
This is why the scientific society has decided to collect the ten most frequent doubts of parents and to address them, one by one, in an article published in the latest issue of Pediatria, the official journal of the Italian Society of Paediatrics.
Article in the Italian paediatricians’ magazine on doubts concerning the Covid vaccine: first of all, the reliability
“The safety of Comirnaty (Pfizer Biontech vaccine, ed.) in 12-15 year olds is based on the analysis of data collected in the study on 2,260 adolescents,” Bozzola writes in the article.
The most frequent adverse reactions were pain at the injection site (greater than 90%), fatigue and headache (greater than 70%), muscle pain and chills (greater than 40%), arthralgia and fever (greater than 20%).
Reactions are generally mild to moderate and resolve within 1-2 days.
Efficacy. Studies have shown that the Comirnaty vaccine is effective,” the paediatrician emphasises.
As with adults, it is necessary to wait up to 7 days after the second dose for protection against the disease.
The efficacy assessed through the analysis of the Sars-CoV-2 neutralising antibody titres performed one month after the administration of the second dose documents a response in 12-15 year olds that is not inferior to that observed among 16 and 25 year olds.
In addition, 7 days after the second dose, no cases of Covid-19 were identified among participants who had received the vaccine (n=1,005), while 16 cases occurred among those who had received placebo (n=978)’.
The Sip advisor then explains that it is not possible to choose which vaccine to use because “Comirnaty is currently the only one authorised in Italy for the 12-17 age group – even though experimental studies on other vaccines are under way”, she points out.
As for adults,” Bozzola goes on to explain, “the Comirnaty dosage for adolescents aged 12-15 is 0.3 ml for each of the two doses, and the vaccination cycle consists of two intramuscular administrations at least 3 weeks apart and no more than 6 weeks apart.
Why vaccinate young people against Covid if a smaller percentage of them have become infected than adults? Paediatricians give the explanation
Young people can still be infected by the virus and spread it,” says the IPP adviser.
Vaccination therefore protects both the recipient, i.e. the adolescent, and the community.
Finally, the vaccine prevents the severe and/or fatal forms associated with Sars-CoV-2 infection.
In fact, although in most cases the course is paucisymptomatic, in some rare cases children can develop severe forms of the disease, such as the well-known MIS-C”.
As far as the duration of immunisation is concerned, the paediatrician points out that ‘studies are still in progress, so at the moment it is not possible to define the exact duration of protection, currently estimated at 9-12 months’.
Bozzola goes on to explain that ‘studies are underway to assess the efficacy of mRNA vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, and preliminary results to date document protection against some variants, including Delta, which is highly prevalent among younger people in some countries, including the UK’.
With regard to the length of time that should elapse between vaccination against Covid-19 and the administration of another vaccine, such as an anti-papillomavirus vaccine, the Italian National Immunization Society (Sip) points out that “as a precautionary measure, an interval of 14 days is recommended, although a document issued on 14 May by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not provide for contraindications to simultaneous vaccination with other vaccines”.
If a teenager has already contracted Covid can he or she be vaccinated?
“Similarly to adults, in subjects with a previous infection it is possible to administer a single dose of vaccine at least 3 months apart and preferably within 6 months of the documented infection,” Bozzola clarifies.
Finally, the contraindications. “Is it useful to suspend taking the oral contraceptive at the same time as vaccination?” ask many parents.
The risk of a thromboembolic complication in the general female population is 2 out of 10,000 and becomes about 5 out of 10,000 in women taking the oestrogen pill, with a slight variability depending on the type of hormone contained,” explains the paediatrician.
At the moment, there is no evidence in favour of discontinuing hormonal contraception at the same time as the Covid-19 vaccination”.
On the possibility that the vaccine may cause infertility, a fake news repeatedly denied by the ISP, the counsellor reiterates that “there is no biologically plausible mechanism by which the current vaccines could affect the fertility of women and men.
Moreover,” she says, “scientific studies show that there is no correlation between covid vaccination and fertility in either men or women.
In particular, a study published in JAMA aimed at verifying the impact of mRNA vaccines on some seminal fluid parameters, including sperm volume, total motility and motile sperm count, showed no significant changes before and after vaccine administration.
Similarly, study participants vaccinated with Pfizer remained pregnant without any problems,’ the paediatrician concludes.