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The Case Against Pediatric Mandates
Four reasons parents should have Covid-19 vaccine choice, by James Mu, M.D.
To mandate a vaccine, we first have to look at the justification for the mandate. It should not be taken lightly because it is forcing others to give up their autonomy and liberty.
Generally speaking, there are four criteria that need to be met for mandating a vaccine:
There is an outbreak of an infectious disease that causes serious threat/harm to the group.
The vaccine is safe and effective. In other words, the risk of the vaccine is low and the benefit is high protection from the infectious disease.
There are no other good alternatives to the vaccine.
Punishment for not getting the vaccine is proportional/appropriate.
Let’s take a look at each one of these criteria, one by one.
#1. Covid-19 infection is highly contagious, but it is highly variable in its effect on the population. That means, not all groups suffer from the disease equally. Higher risk groups include those with advanced age, obesity, pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, etc. Younger age groups have much less severe symptoms, and they also have a much lower mortality rate. Over the last two years, approximately 850 deaths in the United States have been associated with COVID in the age group between 0-17 years old. (1,400 deaths involving traditional pneumonia for this age group.) In contrast, approximately 5,800 deaths for the age group 18-29 years old, 16,900 for 30-39, 40,500 for 40-49, 175,300 for 50-64, and 695,000 for 65-85+. In Shasta county, there were no deaths reported in the 0-18 age group due to COVID. Of the nationwide 850 deaths in the 0-17 age group, 90% of the deaths had underlying high risk conditions such as obesity, cancer, severe lung disease, severe heart disease, and others. These deaths are tragic, but this also demonstrates how strong childrens’ immune systems are, and how they easily overcome COVID if they do not have other serious preexisting conditions. Some studies had placed infection fatality rate for the pediatric population at 0.002%-0.005%. (This number is likely even less with the Omicron variant). By comparison, the measles case fatality rate is 15.7%, and the smallpox case fatality rate is 30%. Therefore, because COVID effects children much less severely, it appears that Covid-19 infection does not meet criteria #1 for the younger healthy population in terms of a serious threat to the group.
#2. Covid-19 vaccines were highly effective for the original wild type virus. However, effectiveness has declined down to the 40% range with the Delta variant for the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, and approaching 0% for the Omicron variant. As the effectiveness of the vaccine has been declining, the side effects have not reduced at all. According to the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System) report, there were 23,000+ reported deaths associated with the Covid vaccine, and over 1 million side effects were reported as well. The side effect cases continue to increase. In fact, some Scandinavian countries have recommended to limit the usage of Moderna vaccine under the age of 30 years old due to potential myocarditis/pericarditis side effects, and the United Kingdom did not recommend COVID vaccine under the age of 12. While it is true the reporting system for vaccine side effects (VAERS) is imperfect, it is the only reporting system we have, and it has spiked quite dramatically over the last two years. The European vaccine reporting system has displayed a spike as well. Therefore, the current group of vaccines does not meet "safe and effective" criteria for younger age groups. More research must be conducted on the long term effects of the Covid vaccine on children and an investigation of the VAERS data must be conducted before this vaccine can truly be considered “safe” for children.
#3. There are alternatives to mandating a vaccine. There are monoclonal antibodies and newer antiviral medications to treat if infected, but the best alternative to vaccination is naturally acquired immunity. Some estimates say that 70+% of the pediatric population already has naturally acquired immunity. Multiple studies have shown that naturally acquired immunity is better than vaccine immunity if you have already survived the COVID infection. The CDC has now confirmed that naturally acquired immunity is better than vaccine immunity in its recent study. Naturally acquired immunity is long-lasting according to other studies as well. Therefore, these populations do not need additional vaccines. Scientifically, there is no discernible benefit to vaccinating children who are naturally immune, and there is also a 200+% increase in risks for vaccinating previously immune populations according to published studies.
#4. The punishment is not proportional/appropriate. Without the vaccine, the school-aged children will lose their ability to receive an equal, in-person education and participate in sports and activities which will affect these children's entire life. This punishment is too severe and does not seem to be proportional or appropriate.
There are other reasons not to have widespread/massive vaccination for a vaccine that is "leaky" against fast mutating, "non-stable" viruses like Covid-19. This practice could potentially accelerate the development of vaccine-resistant variants that could cause widespread infection in the future as is the possible case with the Omicron variant.
The strategy for stopping/isolating/containing/crushing the virus has failed. The Omicron variant has shown us that. The new variants have eluded our vaccines and will continue to infect the populations with newer variants in the future. Unless we develop better vaccines in the future, we will have to live with this virus forever, in the same way we have learned to live with other endemic viruses such as influenza. Ultimately, naturally acquired immunity will be the key to best manage this virus. Therefore, mandating vaccines to naturally immune children is pointless.
Instead of focusing on mandating the vaccine to all children, we need to focus on protecting the most vulnerable children. We should concentrate on vaccinating the most vulnerable pediatric population, and give them early therapeutic treatments if infected. That is where we should focus our efforts. With this strategy, we can minimize potential side effects from vaccines and reduce severe outcomes from infections.