Experts challenge rules excluding unvaccinated teens

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The state that comes closest to Victoria’s strict vaccine exclusions is NSW. However, in New South Wales, children under the age of 16 who are not fully vaccinated can usually follow the rules for people who have been vaccinated, as long as they frequent certain business premises with a fully vaccinated member of their household.

This rule is expected to end on December 15th. The Victorian government intends to extend its lockdown of the unvaccinated through 2022.

Fiona Russell, a pediatrician specializing in epidemiology and vaccination, said the vaccination mandates had played a role in encouraging the adult population of Victoria to be immunized against the virus to protect the community at large.

But she said excessively applying the same rules to young teens risked further amplifying the hardships they faced during the pandemic, especially the social and mental implications.

“The kids have suffered so much, they really shouldn’t be caught up in it,” Professor Russell said. “At no time should [coronavirus] vaccines are compulsory for children under 15, that’s my personal point of view.

Professor Russell said that while children can pass the virus on, it is the responsibility of parents and the adults around them to get the vaccine.

“The kids come out of confinement with social anxiety and all kinds of stuff,” she said. “They should feel supported and part of society and not be excluded in any way. It is extremely important.

Professor Russell said the focus should be on vaccinating Australia’s adult population and that testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine measures are up to par.

The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases also voiced its opposition, tweeting on Wednesday that it did not support COVID-19 vaccination mandates for children under 16 in Australia.

Asked about the scientific evidence regarding vaccination warrants for children, Professor Danchin said she believed the same result could be achieved using face masks, social distancing and screening through regular testing.

“You can manage the risk and reduce the transmission of the disease through other measures,” she said. “If that means that this child needs a rapid antigen test before attending an indoor function or indoor game, you can manage the risk, without requiring that he be ruled out. “

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Meanwhile, infectious disease expert Robert Booy said forcing young teens to follow the same vaccination rules as adults in Victoria was overkill, while children were at much lower risk of serious illness and death. due to COVID-19.

Following a strong backlash from Victorian-era principals and parents, who feared unvaccinated students would be excluded from major end-of-year events, schoolchildren were given a reprieve on Monday.

Unvaccinated 12 to 15 year olds are now free to attend camps, graduation ceremonies and school trips, including swimming pools and adventure parks, as long as a teacher is present.

The three pediatricians interviewed by Age were also strongly opposed to mandatory vaccines for children aged 5 to 11.

Professor Booy urged caution about any rush to vaccinate elementary school students against the virus, warning that it could take months to find out whether the risks of the coronavirus vaccine outweigh the benefits for young children .

About 3 million young children have been vaccinated against the virus in the United States and the University of Sydney professor said at least three weeks follow-up on these children is needed to be sure they don’t report. no unwanted side effects.

As of Thursday, 93.6% of Victorians aged 12 and over had now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In Victoria, over 85.7% of people aged 12 to 15 have received at least one dose and 77.1% are fully immunized.

Public health experts said on Wednesday Victoria’s lockdown of unvaccinated people is expected to end when vaccination rates hit 90%, with some warning that the threat of indefinitely banning people in cafes and cinemas is contributing to the radicalization.

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Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said earlier this week that there were no immediate plans to mandate vaccination for children aged 5 to 11, but he could not rule it out entirely.

“It is too early for us to be definitive on what this will mean for this age group,” he said.

Age contacted the state government and asked what the current health advice is to support the exclusion rules for 12-15 year olds in Victoria.

The government did not respond to this question, but a spokeswoman said making sure every age group was heavily immunized “made everyone safer,” especially the elderly and immunocompromised. .

“Vaccine requirements have made Victoria one of the most vaccinated and therefore the safest places in the world,” she said. “We make no apologies for ensuring that as many young Victorians as possible are protected from serious illness and damage from COVID-19. “

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