Eligible for the anti-Covid vaccine booster since January 24, 12-17 year olds do not rush to receive their dose.
In question, the very wide distribution of the Omicron variant, which has swept through schools and massively contaminated adolescents, even before they were eligible for the recall.
The lower virulence of this variant and the passage of the epidemic peak, giving hope of the beginning of the end of the epidemic, have led to a decline in interest in anti-Covid vaccination among the youngest.
They are nearly 4,180,000 to have received at least one dose of vaccine.
And almost 4 million to have a complete vaccination schedule.
Good students, adolescents aged 12 to 17 have largely responded to the call for anti-Covid vaccination, displaying for their age group a vaccination coverage of 80%, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
But as for the booster dose, which has been open to them since January 24, it is no longer the same story.
To date, only 6% of adolescents have received it, according to Public Health France.
Low figures which are explained by the evolution of the epidemic under the effect of the Omicron variant, which has widely distributed in this age group and which has modified the interest shown in anti-Covid vaccination by adolescents and their parents.
No need for a reminder to get your pass
Cinemas, sports halls or even restaurants: since January 15, adults need a vaccination pass to access them.
But those under 18 years and a month, them, "are not subject to any form of obligation since the valid vaccination pass thanks to the booster dose does not concern them", indicates Professor Renaud Piarroux, epidemiologist and head of the service. parasitology at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital (AP-HP) in Paris.
Thus, if the booster dose is recommended by the health authorities to adolescents, those who are between 16 and 17 years old are not obliged to receive it to keep their vaccination pass.
The initial complete vaccination schedule, which provides for two doses or only one in the event of contamination, remains valid.
As for “adolescents aged 12 to 15, they are not subject to the vaccination pass, recalls the government.
In places where the vaccination pass is required, they will be able to continue to present a “sanitary activity pass” including a negative PCR or antigen test of less than 24 hours”.
"Many teenagers were infected before being eligible for the recall"
And anyway, “the viral circulation was such with the Omicron variant that many adolescents contracted it before being eligible for the booster dose, underlines Professor Piarroux.
So among the teenagers aged 12 to 17 who would have liked to be vaccinated, many simply did not have the time.
Since the start of the school year in January, this variant, which is much more contagious but less virulent than the previous strains, has spread widely in schools.
And “with an opening on January 24, perhaps the vaccination reminder campaign started too late for this age group, suggests Dr. Sylvie Hubinois, pediatrician and president of the French Association of Ambulatory Pediatrics (AFPA).
More than half of the children I have seen in consultation in recent weeks had Covid.
Omicron has pulled the rug out from under the vaccine for the youngest”.
Indeed, “everyone had the Covid at home two weeks ago: our two teenagers aged 14 and 16, our 11-year-old daughter, and my wife and me”, confirms Hamid, father of a family.
Thus, to date, just over 305,000 adolescents have received a booster dose.
But there is not necessarily cause to worry about this low figure.
“The runaway Omicron wave meant that we were no longer able to block the transmission, which exploded.
But we can see it, today, the contamination figures are falling, we have passed the peak, explains Professor Piarroux.
The virus has circulated so much that it is struggling to find new targets: there are more than 11 million cases detected since the beginning of the year.
But in reality, there have probably been at least twice as many, if you count the asymptomatic and paucisymptomatic (patients who show very few symptoms) who have not been diagnosed.
Today, teenagers are certainly poorly vaccinated by booster,
"They weren't hot for the third dose and neither were we"
So, between record contaminations and a less “nasty” variant, for many parents and adolescents, the interest of anti-Covid vaccination before the age of 18 has faded a little.
"Many teenagers do not feel in danger from Omicron, and the facts point in this direction: except in special cases, it is not an age group at risk of serious form, it is not them who go to the hospital," says Professor Piarroux.
"It's multifactorial, but we can clearly see that there is a lack of interest and a weariness with regard to the virus and the vaccination of the youngest: parents know that serious forms are rare in this age group, and adolescents too, they feel that they are being vaccinated against something that will not be serious for them.
They also tell themselves that they have already received two doses and that is enough,”
When the vaccination opened for those over 12, “my wife and I discussed it with our two sons, we considered that it was up to them to decide whether or not they wanted to be vaccinated.
They chose to do it, and they did it, says Hamid.
My wife and I received our third dose: around our 50s, immunity needs more of a boost from vaccination, it didn't stop us from catching Covid, but we still felt more protected.
On the other hand, faced with Omicron, we were less convinced of the interest of re-vaccinating our teenagers.
And when we talked about it again, they weren't very keen on the idea of doing the encore and to tell the truth, neither were we, he confides.
And since it is not mandatory for their pass and the epidemic seems to be coming to an end,
“Today, everyone perceives the epidemic as over, observes Professor Piarroux.
Not necessarily rightly, but in reality, we have no certainty either in this direction or in the other.
For the period from March to April, we should be at a moment of calm, but the evolution of immunity to the virus does not allow us to know what will happen in the coming months.
It is not yet known until when adolescents – and the rest of the population – will be immunized.
So we cannot make long-term predictions on the evolution of the epidemic.
Will the situation change at the start of the school year in September?
Will the epidemic be over or will it start again under the effect of a new variant?
We do not know ".
Coronavirus: Stable hospitalizations, declining contaminations
Covid-19: No need for a third dose for people infected with two doses of vaccine
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