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Japan Pediatric Society recommends COVID shots for 5- to 17-yr-olds

A girl receives the coronavirus vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11 at a hospital in Tokyo's Sumida Ward on Feb. 28, 2022. (Mainichi/Junichi Sasaki)

TOKYO -- The Japan Pediatric Society (JPS) has stated it "recommends" COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5-17.

    The JPS made the recommendation after it concluded that, based on domestic and international research confirming the vaccines' efficacy including preventing COVID-19 or serious illness if infected, the benefits supersede adverse reaction and other side effect risks.

    The medical group released its official view on COVID-19 vaccinations on Aug. 10 following a surge in coronavirus cases among children amid Japan's seventh wave of infections. Although more than 95% of infections among children are mild, the ratio with severe symptoms is increasing compared to the few such cases seen previously, the group said. There had been three COVID-19 fatalities among those younger than 20 by the end of 2021, but since the beginning of 2022, 14 child deaths have been reported.

    Coronavirus vaccinations have been confirmed effective against the omicron variants in preventing symptoms and severe cases. Children aged 12-17 in Japan have experienced adverse reactions at about the same rate as young adults, while milder post-vaccination reactions have been recorded among children from the ages of 5 to 11.

    The pediatric society had previously stated that vaccinations for those aged 5-11 "had significance," and the latest "recommendation" is an escalation in wording. For 12- to 17-year-olds, meanwhile, the group recommends they get their third shots.

    According to the Japanese government, 18.5% of children aged 5-11 have had two COVID-19 shots. JPS council member Akihiko Saitoh told a news conference, "While vaccination rates among children are low, there have been some serious cases. We want to increase the rate."

    A health ministry subcommittee on inoculations concluded on Aug. 8 that, under the Immunization Act, efforts must be made to get 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated against COVID-19.

    (Japanese original by Haruna Okuyama, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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