Paris (AFP)

Only in centers, with the authorization of both parents and the consent of the minor: the vaccination of adolescents against Covid-19 begins on Tuesday under certain conditions with, as the main challenge, the increase in vaccination coverage to limit circulation as much as possible. virus.

- For whom and where?

Vaccination will be open to all children 12 and over from Tuesday, potentially more than 3.5 million people.

With one exception: adolescents who have developed pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PIMS) following infection with SARS-CoV-2, for whom vaccination is not recommended.

Until now, young people aged 16 and 17 could be vaccinated in two cases: if they suffered from a very high-risk pathology of severe form of Covid-19 or if they were relatives of people immunocompromised.

Vaccination of adolescents will only be possible in a center with the PfizerBioNTech vaccine, the only one to date to have a marketing authorization for this age group.

Moderna, who made a request last week, is awaiting the European Union's response.

- Parental authorization required

The vaccination of minors requires the authorization of the two holders of parental authority but the presence of only one will be required during the injection.

A parental authorization form, available online (https://solidarites-sante.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/fiche_-_autorisation_parentale_vaccin_covid-19.pdf) must be completed and signed before vaccination.

The administration of the vaccine will nonetheless be subject to the oral consent of the minor concerned.

- A low individual risk

Deaths from Covid-19 are exceptional among adolescents: the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC, has recorded 98 deaths out of 1.1 million cases among 10-19 year olds.

The risk of a severe form requiring hospitalization is also very low (0.9% according to the ECDC).

But if the benefit / risk ratio of being vaccinated remains less obvious for this age group than for the rest of the population, specialists highlight an indirect individual benefit: vaccinated, adolescents will be able to resume a more normal life more quickly. , they who have been severely affected by the successive restrictions (confinements, reduction of social interactions, closure of schools or distance education ...).

Vaccination of adolescents could contribute to the return to normal functioning of schools, colleges and high schools, and limit the risks for staff and fragile students.

- The issue of collective immunity

Vaccinating 12-17 year olds will above all make it possible to immunize a larger part of the population and thus better fight against the circulation of the virus.

If their health is not at risk, adolescents are not immune to infection and can therefore participate in the transmission of the virus.

Their immunization therefore helps to curb the epidemic.

A well-known phenomenon in infectious diseases, herd immunity means that above a certain threshold of people vaccinated, viruses no longer meet enough people to infect, which prevents them from replicating and continuing to circulate .

If we do not vaccinate minors, more than 90% of adults would have to be vaccinated to achieve such coverage, an ambitious figure given the reluctance of part of the population.

- Reserves persist

If the vaccination of adolescents has a collective advantage, some specialists wonder about the advisability of opening the centers to them when only 26.7% of adults, more at risk, have received two injections (57.6% one dose) .

The High Health Authority also recommended at the beginning of June to wait until the vaccination of adults is sufficiently advanced before generalizing it to this age group.

And the National Ethics Committee (CCNE) regretted Wednesday "that the decisions" concerning the vaccination of adolescents against Covid-19 "were taken so quickly", wondering if it was ethical to make minors bear the responsibility , in terms of collective benefit, the refusal of vaccination (or the difficulty of accessing it) of a part of the adult population.

The WHO, for its part, called on countries in mid-May to give up vaccinating children and adolescents against Covid and donate the doses thus released to the Covax system to redistribute them to underprivileged countries.

© 2021 AFP

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