Children who get Covid shot are infectious for same amount of time as non-vaccinated, study finds
- Kids who got booster were infectious for same duration as unvaccinated kids
- Study suggests return-to-school plans don’t need to include vaccine mandates
- READ MORE: CDC recommends Covid boosters for children six months and up
Children vaccinated against Covid are infectious for the same amount of time as their non-vaccinated peers, a new study out of California has found.
Whether or not students had received their bivalent Covid booster made no difference to the length of time they shed pieces of the virus after testing positive.
Both groups of kids aged seven to 18 were infectious for three days on average, according to the results from April to September 2022.
The study adds more doubt about the importance of giving Covid booster shots to children. Until earlier this year, several states including California and Illinois mandated the vaccines in schools.
Experts from Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles, who carried out the study: ‘Return-to-school policies may not need to discriminate by vaccine or booster status.’
Crucially, though, lead author Dr Neeraj Sood said the team did not look at the vaccines’ abilities to prevent infection in the first place.
Children who had been vaccinated were infectious for three days, the same duration as children who were not vaccinated
Booster dose uptake among the youngest Americans started out low and remains low, in part because parents don’t see the benefit of giving their kids the shot when they are less likely to become severely ill in the first place
The study also took place before Pfizer’s original bivalent booster was approved.
That vaccine offered better protection against the Omicron subvariants that were circulating at the time.
The youngest children in the study likely did not receive a booster but rather the standard two-dose vaccine course.
Levels of immunity and protection have ebbed and flowed with different vaccines and virus variant combinations.
The report was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The 76 children involved in the study were from the Los Angeles-area included in the study ranged in age children seven to 18 years old.
The goal was to measure the impact of the virus on the children’s cells to better understand how it behaves and for how long it is contagious.
The researchers studied their level of viral shedding, the number of virus particles that a child emits through coughing, sneezing, or talking that are then spread throughout the environment.
WHO says healthy kids and teens don’t need Covid vaccinations
The World Health Organization (WHO) revised its Covid vaccine recommendations and suggested that healthy children and adolescents may not need a shot.
Every child tested positive for the Covid-19 Omicron variant. Of the 76 children, including 41 seven to 12-year-olds, 52 were vaccinated.
Children who had been vaccinated were infectious for three days, the same duration as children who were not vaccinated.
Researchers did not say whether they were surprised by their results. But what they found was similar to a study in adults with the Omicron variant, which also could not find an association between the length of time that a person is contagious and their vaccination status.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children, including babies as young as six months, receive a bivalent booster shot containing components of both the original virus strain as well as the omicron variant.
Yet uptake has remained low. A July 2023 study published in the journal Annals of Medicine reported that just 39 percent of children aged five to 11 and 55 percent of teenagers have gotten a booster dose.
Bivalent boosters have been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe enough cases to land a child in the hospital or at an urgent care clinic, but it is not clear to what extent the shots can prevent infection in the first place.
Covid vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness in the elderly, but protection against initial infection tends to be much weaker.
And children do not typically get dangerously sick with Covid, which has led many parents to believe there is not enough benefit to justify the shot.
Pandemic fears prompted many state and local officials to shutter schools in 2020 in order to protect children.
However, children are typically not nearly as vulnerable to severe illness as older adults, especially seniors.
This fact has contributed to an overall lack of enthusiasm among parents for pediatric booster shots, as many parents simply do not believe they are worth getting.
There is a tiny risk of heart inflammation in younger people after being vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines, but the majority of cases are mild and subside on their own.
Still, the tiny risk of a severe Covid infection has left many parents wary.
Widespread school closures have been blamed for fomenting a mental health crisis among school-aged children, as well as causing a downward spiral in academic performance overall.
A Brookings Institution study last year found that average fall 2021 math test scores in grades three to eight were 0.20 to 0.27 standard deviations (SDs) lower relative to same-grade peers in fall 2019.
Standard deviations are used to show how much test scores vary from the overall average, and a decrease of 0.20 to 0.27 SDs suggests a major decline in math performance.
At the same time, reading test scores decreased by 0.09 to 0.18 SDs.
Proponents for keeping schools open, which includes about 60 percent of American parents, have cited plummeting academic achievement as a clear indication that in-person instruction is far superior to consigning children to learn via Zoom at home.
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