October 08, 2021 11:53
Coronavirus vaccinations of children aged 12 to 17 start this month, but the reservation rate so far is alarmingly low.
Only 33.2 percent of some 899,000 16 to 17-year-olds have booked their jabs since reservations started Tuesday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
Bookings for 12 to 15-year-olds start on Oct. 18.
Vaccination for under-18s is not mandatory, but health authorities were alarmed by the low uptake. They strongly urged youngsters with diabetes and other underlying illnesses to get vaccinated because they have a higher risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19.
Children and teens have been included in the vaccination drive as infections among them spiked in the recent surge. In August, 3,050 people aged 12 to 17 tested positive, three times more than the number in that age group who were infected last December, and they accounted for 5.9 percent of total infections.
Researchers both here and abroad have found that vaccines have a huge effect in preventing infections from turning serious among children and teens. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in July showing that Pfizer injections of 1,131 people aged 12 to 15 were 100 percent effective in preventing infections.
The KDCA also found vaccines nearly 100 percent effective among people aged 16 to 17. while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed June and July data from 14 state hospitals and found that unvaccinated people aged 12 to 17 were 10.1 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated ones.
But other experts point out that the chances of youngsters being infected or developing serious symptoms remain low because their immune systems are strong.
There have been 28,796 cases so far here among teenagers but no fatalities. Studies have also found that children and teens who can develop side effects from vaccines such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the thin membrane that surrounds the heart).
According to the U.S. CDC in June, 62.75 out of a million boys aged 12 to 17 who got the jab developed myocarditis, 15.8 times more than among men in their 40s. Out of a million girls in the age group, 8.68 suffered this side effect.
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