Risks and benefits of COVID vaccines in 12 to 15 year olds

Previously, the UK vaccine expert committee (JCVI) decided that would NOT advice COVID vaccines to healthy 12 to 15-year-olds because the “direct individual benefit” to their health was only marginal.

But the Chief Medical officers have decided the other way now. The UK Government is now offering 12-15 year olds COVID vaccination and believes that this is the way out of the pandemic.

This is a very finely balanced decision. Decision seem to have been made on “public health grounds” rather than “individual” benefit.

In England, children aged 12 to 15 will be offered one dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine ( one dose instead of the usual two doses so as to minimise risks).

Lot of Vaccines offered for many other childhood illnesses have much greater benefit than COVID vaccines.

A nice article in Guardian by a Paediatrician discusses the benefits and risks of COVID vaccines in the 12 to 15 year olds. Boys seem to be more at risk of Heart side effects compared to Girls.

It would be difficult decision for lot of parents with healthy children.

References

Guardian. As a paediatrician, I believe it’s right to vaccinate young people aged 12 to 15
Russell Viner
There are no simple solutions to Covid, but children themselves will, on balance, benefit from being vaccinated. Russell Viner is a paediatrician and professor at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
Tue 14 Sep 2021 14.31 BST

BMJ. Covid-19: Vaccinating children will help end pandemic, says minister
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2254 (Published 14 September 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2254

Daily Mail. It makes you think…’ Holly Willoughby finds herself conflicted about son Harry, 12, getting the COVID-19 vaccine as she’s caught between debating doctors on This Morning. By Andrew Bullock For Mailonline
13:19, 14 Sep 2021 , updated 14:28, 14 Sep 2021

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

COVID vaccination of 12-15 year olds: benefits vs risks

Should young teenagers have the COVID vaccine?

At present, this is a difficult question to give a straightforward answer.

For most of “middle to old age” people, the benefits of COVID vaccines are far greater than potential side effects from vaccines.

On the other hand, in case of 12-15 year olds, the benefits are marginally better than risks and individual circumstances need to be taken into account.

UK’s vaccine advisory body is called JCVI. ( Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation ).

JCVI on Friday declined to recommend universal vaccination of all 12-15 year olds. This is because the chances of children becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is very small. This needs to be balanced against a tiny risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart in young people due to the vaccines. It is a matter of weighing up disease versus vaccine.

But, this does not mean COVID vaccines are not being given to 12-15 year olds.

USA, France, Italy, Israel and Ireland are offering vaccines to this group.

In U.K., vulnerable children with heart and lung problems, blood disorders, diabetes and various other diseases are eligible for the COVID vaccine. Children living with extremely vulnerable adults are also eligible.

Parents with healthy 12-15 year olds have a difficult choice to make in the coming weeks.

References

BMJ news. Covid-19: JCVI opts not to recommend universal vaccination of 12-15 year olds
BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2180 (Published 03 September 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2180

BBC news. Covid: What do parents think about vaccinating children?
By Jennifer Meierhans & Kris Bramwell
BBC News

BBC news. Scientists not backing Covid jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds
By Philippa Roxby and Nick Triggle
BBC News

BBC news. Why vaccinating all teens is a difficult decision
By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

Gov.U.K. Guidance
Coronavirus (COVID-19): antibody testing

Updated 22 August 2021

NHS. Antibody testing to check if you’ve had coronavirus (COVID-19)

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Is Moderna COVID vaccine better than Pfizer Vaccine?

Are all COVID Vaccines equally effective ?

Probably not.

But until recently there has been hardly any direct clinical studies comparing different vaccines.

A recent study conducted in Belgium compared the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines.

The study looked at antibody responses following vaccination in Health care workers. Antibody levels were measured prior to vaccination as well as 6 to 10 weeks after the second dose.

Higher antibody levels were observed in people vaccinated with Moderna vaccine compared with those vaccinated with Pfizer vaccine.

Future research is needed to see how these differences affect the general population.

Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are based on same technology (mRNA based vaccines).

If significant differences exist between between vaccines of same technology, then it is likely that differences would exist between vaccines of different technology (eg Pfizer vs Astra Zeneca).

The public health authorities would need to decide whether booster vaccinations should be done with a different vaccine.

References

Bloomberg. Moderna Creates Twice as Many Antibodies as Pfizer, Study Shows
By Jason Gale
31 August 2021, 03:54 BST

JAMA Research Letter
August 30, 2021
Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Response Following Vaccination With BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273
Deborah Steensels, PharmD, PhD1; Noella Pierlet, MSc1; Joris Penders, MD, PhD1; et al . JAMA. Published online August 30, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.15125

(mRNA-1273 is Moderna Vaccine and BNT162b2 is Pfizer vaccine).

Daily Mail. ALL over-50s will get Covid booster shots by autumn: People who got AstraZeneca ‘are set to be offered a Pfizer jab’ in new vaccine drive because it is more effective against Indian variant. By Katie Feehan For Mailonline and Glen Owen for The Mail on Sunday
10:12, 01 Aug 2021 , updated 18:02, 01 Aug 2021

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Are booster vaccines the way out of this pandemic?

Vaccination promised a straightforward way out of the pandemic. Protection from TWO doses of vaccine initially promised to end the pandemic.

Israel led the way in mass vaccination. Infection rates plummeted and life seemed to be returning to normal.

But infection rates then started rising in Israel and Israel was forced to use booster vaccines for high risk population.

It is now hoped that the THIRD booster vaccines would provide a way of keeping COVID infections at a manageable level.

Only time will tell whether this strategy would be successful!

References

BBC Covid: What Israel tells us about the way out of the pandemic
By Rachel Schraer
Health reporter

Sky News. COVID-19: Scientists say vaccines could control pandemic … After two doses of Pfizer, there was a 70% reduction in all cases and a 90% drop in symptomatic cases, new data shows. Friday 23 April 2021 09:08, UK

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Can Vaccinated people spread the disease to others if they get a COVID infection?

Yes.

Normally Vaccines that are highly effective (for various other diseases) prevent most vaccinated people from getting the infection completely.

But that does not seem to be the case with COVID vaccines.

The COVID vaccines are highly successful in preventing severe COVID, hospitalisations and deaths. But they seem to be a bit less effective in preventing people from catching mild COVID infections.

So if a vaccinated person gets a mild COVID infection, can they pass it onto others?

Yes, they can.

This is an important fact for people with vulnerable family members and friends.

If you have mild symptoms, do get tested and be extremely careful when you are with your vulnerable family members ( elderly parents, grandparents etc).

You can pass COVID to them even if you do not have much symptoms.

As vaccines lose some effectiveness over a period of time, do NOT assume that double vaccination would protect your vulnerable family members.

A recent Public Health England report indicates that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people with COVID infection are equally infectious and capable of spreading to others.

A similar report was also published from USA recently.

The end is not in sight yet. Be careful when you are with vulnerable family members !

References

Nature. COVID vaccines slash viral spread – but Delta is an unknown.
Smriti Mallapaty

CDC. How Vaccines work.

CDC. Diseases that Vaccines prevent.

U.K. Public Health England. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England: technical briefing 20. Ref: PHE publications gateway number: GOV-9220. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1009243/Technical_Briefing_20.pdf

USA. BMJ. Covid-19: Delta infections threaten herd immunity vaccine strategyBMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1933 (Published 02 August 2021)Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1933

Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

Can companies force you to have the COVID vaccine and say ‘no jab, no job’ ?

Possibly yes, if it is important for your job.

A BBC report discusses the legality of it .

Vast majority of people are desperate to have vaccination and some people are even queue jumping. So this issue is of relevance to some people only and that too when vaccines are freely available to all.

If you are a plumber, who may be visiting the homes of Vulnerable people or a Care Home worker looking after very elderly people, it may be justifiable to say ‘no jab, no job’.

Balancing individual Liberty versus the benefit of others would be a legal minefield particularly when existing workers are concerned.

Furthermore, there are still lot of things we do not know how vaccines. We do not know how long they will protect somebody. We do not know whether all vaccines have similar efficacy. We do not know about the extent to which vaccines would be effective against any variants.

So “Vaccine passport” for ALL types of jobs is a unlikely now.

BBC News. Coronavirus: ‘No jab, no job’ policies may be legal for new staff. 18 Feb 2021.

BBC news. Covid vaccine passports could discriminate, experts warn
By Rachel Schraer
Health reporter

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Why are some people falsely sceptical of COVID Vaccines?

Disclaimer: A personal view point !

“Vaccines hesitancy” is a problem in some sections of society.

A significant minority of people have an unhealthy scepticism about all vaccines in general fuelled by misinformation on social media. Some people in western world, who haven’t seen the horrors that can be wrecked by infectious diseases, have an ill-informed view about all Vaccines.

Vaccines have played a significant role in protection against various deadly infections diseases in the past century. The infectious diseases of childhood have become less prevalent even in developing countries now. But there is a risk of Vaccine Hesitancy spreading to these third world developing countries .

That is not to say that all vaccines are free of side effects. Lot of people do have mild side effects after any vaccination. But very serious side effects are rare.

The concerns of people with Vaccine Hesitancy particularly relating to COVID Vaccine is genuine. The COVID vaccines have been rapidly developed and there are no long term efficacy or toxicity data. Because it is a global emergency, countries are forced to begin COVID vaccination based on the available excellent short term efficacy and safety data. Only time can tell whether the Governments got it right over long term.

But there is no evidence to suggest secrecy or conspiracy surrounding development of various vaccines including COVID vaccines. For instance, two reports of severe allergies due to COVID vaccine was immediately brought to the attention of everyone by Regulatory authorities in UK.

It is now reported that Norway is investigating deaths after coronavirus vaccination in very frail elderly people. Any adverse report on vaccines will be investigated and made public.

Rare individual stories of serious side effects is understandably shocking. It is human nature not to risk when one personally feels well at a particular point in time.

It is very important to remember that life is full of risks. People make decisions every day based on benefits versus risks ( eg driving a car). People need to understand that the benefits from most vaccines against infections diseases significantly outweighs the risks of various vaccine side effects. While a handful have serious side effects, many millions do benefit from the all vaccines.

“Vaccines hesitancy” is also not helped Historic mistrust of government in sections of population which regrettably can make things difficult in terms of achieving good vaccine coverage at population level.

If you have concerns about vaccines –

“Do read information about Vaccines with an open mind and pay attention to high quality population level studies assessing risks versus benefits and ignore individual unsubstantiated stories”.

“Do speak to your doctor about your concerns with an open mind”.

“Do NOT always seek information that affirms your views and Worries. Do seek reliable information that challenges your views on vaccines before you make your choice”.

References

JAMA Insights Clinical Update
January 21, 2021
Allergic Reactions Including Anaphylaxis After Receipt of the First Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
Tom Shimabukuro, MD, MPH, MBA1; Narayan Nair, MD2
Author Affiliations
JAMA. Published online January 21, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0600

BMJ. Covid-19: Norway investigates 23 deaths in frail elderly patients after vaccination
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n149 (Published 15 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n149.

Guillain-Barré syndrome after vaccination in United States: data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (1990-2005)
Nizar Souayah et al. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2009 Sep.

The Atlantic. Anti-vaxxers Think This Is Their Moment. Society’s well-being depends on how well public-health officials and average internet users combat misinformation. DECEMBER 20, 2020
Renée DiResta.
Technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

Countering Vaccine Hesitancy. Kathryn M. Edwards, Jesse M. Hackell and THE COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES, THE COMMITTEE ON PRACTICE AND AMBULATORY MEDICINE
Pediatrics September 2016, 138 (3) e20162146; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2146

Guardian. Covid vaccine: 72% of black people unlikely to have jab, UK survey finds.
Linda Geddes
Sat 16 Jan 2021 07.00 GMT

Lazarus JV, Ratzan SC, Palayew A, et al. A global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nat Med 2020 doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-1124-9

BBC. Royal Marsden’s leading cancer expert Martin Gore dies.
Published 11 January 2019

Times. Cancer pioneer Martin Gore’s sudden death from routine jab.
David Brown
Friday January 11 2019, 12.01am, The Times

The benefit of the doubt or doubts over benefits? A systematic literature review of perceived risks of vaccines in European populations
Emilie Karafillakis et al. Vaccine. 2017.

BMJ. The rush to create a covid-19 vaccine may do more harm than good. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3209 (Published 18 August 2020)Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3209

MHRA: Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Where can I find official detailed information about the three COVID vaccines (Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Moderna)

You might have read information about the COVID vaccines on various news outlets and social media messages.

If you want complete summary information about vaccines approved by the regulatory authorities, click on the links below.

Two types of information leaflets accompany all licensed medicines.
– One is meant for health professionals and has lot of clinical information. (called SPC)
– The other is meant for patients and public and provides a summary of facts using lay terms.(called PIL).

The leaflets provide information about all common side effects observed in the trials.

Oxford Astra Zeneca: Professionals Version .

Oxford Astra Zeneca: Patient Version

Pfizer. Professionals Version

Pfizer. Patient Version

Moderna. Professionals Version

Moderna. Patient Version

FDA USA: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine prescribing informationexternal

FDA USA: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine prescribing informationexternal

The above links reproduced below with longer titles and date of publication.

Please note when new significant information comes to light, the company and regulatory authorities are likely to update the information leaflets.

Oxford Vaccine : Information for Healthcare Professionals on COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
Updated 7 January 2021.

Oxford Vaccine: MHRA. Information for UK recipients on COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
Updated 7 January 2021.

Pfizer Vaccine. MHRA. Information for Healthcare Professionals on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
Updated 31 December 2020

Pfizer Vaccine. MHRA. Information for UK recipients on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
Updated 31 December 2020

Moderna. MHRA. Information for Healthcare Professionals on COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna
Updated 8 January 2021.

Moderna. MHRA. Information for UK recipients on COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna
Updated 8 January 2021.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

A third Vaccine approved for protection against COVID-19 Coronavirus infection

Pfizer Vaccine and Astra Zeneca/Oxford Vaccine were approved last month by the UK regulatory authorities.

Now the regulatory authorities have approved a third vaccine. The third vaccine from Moderna along with two other vaccines should help to bring the pandemic to an end.

The Moderna vaccine is a new technology like the Pfizer Vaccine. (based on mRNA technology).

Like the two vaccines, the short term data for Moderna vaccine is very encouraging.

Over long term, one hopes that the protective effect of all the three vaccines is long lasting and that they remain effective against any new variants of coronavirus that might emerge in the coming months.

Overall, there is certainly ‘light at end of the tunnel’ and the world can emerge out of this horrific pandemic in a short period.

BBC. Moderna becomes third Covid vaccine approved in the UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

BBC.Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online
Published2 December 2020

BBC. Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in UK
By James Gallagher and Nick Triggle
BBC News
Published30 December 2020

MHRA. Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine approved.

MHRA. Moderna vaccine becomes third COVID-19 vaccine approved by UK regulator.

MHRA. UK medicines regulator gives approval for first UK COVID-19 vaccine.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.