COVID-19 Vaccine Risks and Benefits in Young Children

When considering any medical intervention, the risks must be weighed against the benefits.

So, when it comes to vaccination, four things must be considered:

  1. Disease Risk: How great is the risk of not vaccinating? What are the odds that an unvaccinated person will suffer serious illness or death from the virus?
  2. Disease Recovery Benefit: What are the benefits of contracting the disease and surviving it? Does natural immunity have any benefits superior to vaccine-induced immunity?
  3. Vaccine Risk: How great is the risk of the vaccine itself? What are the odds that a vaccinated person will suffer serious illness or death because of how the vaccine impacts their body?
  4. Vaccine Benefit: How much does the vaccine improve the odds of avoiding severe illness or death?

Disease Risk of COVID-19 in Young Children

The data currently shows that the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 in healthy children is extremely low. In addition, most children have already had SARS-CoV-2 infection and successfully recovered from it, in most cases gaining long-lasting natural immunity:

Disease Recovery Benefit of COVID-19 in Young Children

There are differences between natural immunity (getting the virus and recovering from it) and vaccine-induced immunity. Current data indicates that COVID-19 natural immunity is robust and lasts longer than vaccine-induced immunity.

  • Recent data from Israel shows excellent long-lasting natural immunity for at least 18 months following infection in children, especially for ages 5-11. [8]
  • This study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June 2022 showed that natural immunity far outperforms vaccine-induced immunity. At 4-6 months, those who had received two doses of the vaccine had nearly 7 times as many cases of COVID-19 than those who were unvaccinated and had recovered from infection. [9]
  • An investigation published in JAMA, showed that immune response to mild or asymptomatic infection in patients younger than 3 years was 5 times better than that of adults. [10]

COVID-19 Vaccine Risk in Young Children

Human beings are not identical. Every person has a unique mix of genetics and environmental exposure. Scientists know that there will be some percentage of the population that has a negative reaction to any given vaccine. That’s why the United States government established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program. The question is: how much do we know about the COVID-19 vaccine risks for children?

  • There is an increased risk of myocarditis (heart damage) in both male and female adolescents and young adults. A recent study released June 2022 showed that there was an 8 times increased risk from two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and a 30 times increased risk from two doses of the Moderna vaccine. [11]
  • Many European nations, including Germany and France have restricted the Moderna vaccine to adults over 30 due to this risk. [12]
  • The emerging evidence of persistent cardiac abnormalities up to 8 months later, suggests this damage is not ‘mild and short-lived’. [13]
  • The Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials used to show safety and efficacy of the vaccine in children 6 months to 5 years had many flaws. You can read critiques of the trial data here, here, and here. [14, 15, 16]
  • U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) data from Dec. 14, 2020, to October 28, 2022, for 5- to 11-year-olds show: 14,285 adverse events, including 343 rated as serious and 11 reported deaths. Among the serious events were 24 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis and 51 reports of blood clotting disorders. [17, 18, 19, 20, 21]
  • The number of adverse events reported for the COVID-19 vaccines are substantially larger than for any other vaccine in history. They are being reported at a rate 27 times the rate of the flu vaccine. [22]
  • Because they are so new, it is not possible to know how the COVID-19 vaccines may affect children’s health in the long run. No studies have yet been done on toxicity, carcinogenicity, fetal and reproductive risks, or other important aspects of safety.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines and the bivalent (Omicron) booster for young children are authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). No COVID-19 vaccine is FDA-approved for young children. This means neither the vaccine manufacturer, nor the government, is liable if your child is injured by the vaccine. [23]
  • The Moderna and Pfizer Bivalent (Omicron) vaccines were authorized for children ages 6-11 despite the fact that they were not tested on a single child. Up until 2021, this would have been unheard of, since it is well-known that children’s immune systems react differently than adults. [24]

COVID-19 Vaccine Benefit in Young Children

Vaccine efficacy is how well the vaccine protects the vaccinated against contracting a disease, compared to an unvaccinated control group. The latest data shows that COVID-19 vaccine efficacy wanes quickly in children, providing little protection after the first 30 days.

Risk-Benefit Summary

To summarize the data listed above:

  • Most U.S. children have already had COVID-19 and are likely to have long-lasting natural immunity.
  • When a healthy child gets the COVID-19 Omicron variant, it is generally a short, mild illness.
  • The vaccine protection in children wanes quickly — possibly in as little as 30 days.
  • There are an unusual amount of adverse reactions reported from the COVID-19 vaccines and some reactions could result in permanent injury or death.
  • The long-term health consequences of the COVID-19 vaccines are unknown. 

Fact Sheet Download

Grab a printable version of this Fact Sheet

References

[1] Seroprevalence of Infection-Induced SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies — United States, September 2021–February 2022 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/pdfs/mm7117e3-H.pdf

[2] MRC Biostatistics Unit. Report on Nowcasting and Forecasting – 5th August 2022. https://www.mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk/now-casting/report-on-nowcasting-and-forecasting-5th-august-2022/

[3] COVID-19 Deaths and Autopsies Feb 2020 to Dec 2021, Table 1: Number of Deaths Where COVID-19 Was the Only Cause Mentioned on the Death Certificate, 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2021, by Sex and Age Group, England and Wales, Jan. 17, 2022, Office for National Statistics. https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/COVID19deathsandautopsiesfeb2020todec2021

[4] Smith C, Odd D, Harwood R et al. Deaths in Children and Young People in England following SARS-CoV-2 infection during the first pandemic year: a national study using linked mandatory child death reporting data. Nature Medicine 28 (2022): 185–192, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01578-1.pdf

[5] Kevin J. Selva, Carolien E. van de Sandt, Melissa M. Lemke, et al., Systems Serology Detects Functionally Distinct Coronavirus Antibody Features in Children and Elderly, Nature Communications 12, no. 2037 (2021), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22236-7

[6] Alexander C. Dowell, Megan S. Butler, Elizabeth Jinks, et al., “Children Develop Robust and Sustained Cross-Reactive Spike-Specific Immune Responses to SARS-CoV-2 Infection,” Nat Immunol 23 (2022): 40–49, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41590-021-01089-8

[7] Wang L, Berger NA, Kaelber DC, Davis PB, Volkow ND, Xu R. COVID infection severity in children under 5 years old before and after Omicron emergence in the US. Preprint. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.12.22269179v1.full.pdf

[8] Patalon T & Maccabi KS. Naturally-acquired Immunity Dynamics against SARS-CoV-2 in Children and Adolescents. Preprint 06/21/2022. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.06.20.22276650v1

[9] Goldberg, Y., Mandel, M., Bar-On, Y. M., Bodenheimer, O., Freedman, L. S., Ash, N., Alroy-Preis, S., Huppert, A., & Milo, R. (2022). Protection and Waning of Natural and Hybrid Immunity to SARS-CoV-2. New England Journal of Medicine, 386(23), 2201–2212. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2118946

[10] di Chiara, C., Cantarutti, A., Costenaro, P., Donà, D., Bonfante, F., Cosma, C., Ferrarese, M., Cozzani, S., Petrara, M. R., Carmona, F., Liberati, C., Palma, P., di Salvo, G., de Rossi, A., Plebani, M., Padoan, A., & Giaquinto, C. (2022). Long-term Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Children and Adults After Mild Infection. JAMA Network Open, 5(7), e2221616. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.21616

[11] le Vu, S., Bertrand, M., Jabagi, M. J., Botton, J., Drouin, J., Baricault, B., Weill, A., Dray-Spira, R., & Zureik, M. (2022). Age and sex-specific risks of myocarditis and pericarditis following COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccines. Nature Communications, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31401-5

[12] Hart, R. (2022, April 21). Germany, France Restrict Moderna’s COVID Vaccine For Under-30s Over Rare Heart Risk—Despite Surging Cases. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2021/11/10/germany-france-restrict-modernas-COVID-vaccine-for-under-30s-over-rare-heart-risk-despite-surging-cases/

[13] Schauer J, Buddhe S, Gulhabe A et al. Persistent Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in a Cohort of Adolescents with Post-Coronavirus Disease 2019 mRNA Vaccine Myopericarditis. J Pediatr 2022; 245: 233-7. https://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(22)00282-7/fulltext

[14] FDA Caught Creating and Using Unreliable and Inconsistent Data to Create An Illusion of COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy as They Attempt to Justify Approval for Use in Infants and Toddlers by James Lyon-Weiler

[15] Push to “Vaccinate Infants” is a Clown Show by Igor Chudov

[16] The Sole Purpose Of The Moderna And Pfizer Mrna Shots In Kids Is To Eliminate The Control Group. There Are No Health Benefits, Only Harms by Toby Rogers

[17] VAERS Search: COVID-19 vaccine adverse events for ages 5-11

[18] VAERS Search: COVID-19 vaccine serious adverse events for ages 5-11

[19] VAERS Search: COVID-19 vaccine deaths for ages 5-11

[20] VAERS Search: COVID-19 vaccine reports of myocarditis and pericarditis for ages 5-11

[21] VAERS Search: COVID-19 vaccine reports of blood clotting disorders for ages 5-11

[22] Seneff, S., Nigh, G., Kyriakopoulos, A. M., & McCullough, P. A. (2022). Innate immune suppression by SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccinations: The role of G-quadruplexes, exosomes, and MicroRNAs. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 164, 113008. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2022.113008

[23] Pfizer EUA declaration for ages 6 months to 4 years

[24] Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccines for Use as a Booster Dose in Younger Age Groups https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-COVID-19-update-fda-authorizes-moderna-and-pfizer-biontech-bivalent-COVID-19-vaccines

[25] Dorabawila, V., Hoefer, D., Bauer, U. E., Bassett, M. T., Lutterloh, E., & Rosenberg, E. S. (2022). Risk of Infection and Hospitalization Among Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children and Adolescents in New York After the Emergence of the Omicron Variant. Preprint. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.02.25.22271454v1.full

[26] EUA amendment request for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for use in children 6 months through 4 years of age. https://www.fda.gov/media/159195/download

[27] Nedelman, M. C. (2021, July 30). CDC shares “pivotal discovery” on COVID-19 breakthrough infections that led to new mask guidance. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/30/health/breakthrough-infection-masks-cdc-provincetown-study/index.html

[28] Lynggaard, E. H. (2022, June 22) In hindsight, we did not get much out of vaccinating the children, Brostrøm admits. TV2 https://nyheder.tv2.dk/samfund/2022-06-22-set-i-bakspejlet-fik-vi-ikke-meget-ud-af-at-vaccinere-boernene-erkender-brostroem

[29] Updated COVID-19 vaccines boost protection, but may not beat original formula against BA.4 and BA.5, early studies suggest https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/26/health/updated-boosters-omicron-imprint/index.html

Scroll to Top