Ethics Committee: conditional agreement to the vaccination of children

In its response to the Ministry of Health, the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) approved, today, the opening of vaccination against Covid-19 to all children aged 5 to 11. But 62% of the parents would be hostile to it, according to a poll BVA/RTL.

The evolution of the pandemic in schools raises the issue of vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years.
To date, 2,970 classes have been closed (out of 527,200, or 0.5%) due to Covid-19 and 2,599 cases have been confirmed among national education personnel (out of 1.2 million, or 0.22%), raising fears that the epidemic will spread widely among children.
This is why the Ministry of Health has requested the opinion of the National Consultative Ethics Committee on November 26, 2021. In this “fourth reflection” on vaccination against Covid-19 published this Friday, December 17, 2021, the CCNE recalls that “children aged 6 to 10 years have the highest incidence rate among school-age groups (i.e. 988 cases per 100,000 inhabitants).”

No obligation

After assessing the benefits/risks, the CCNE considers that vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 is ethically acceptable in the current context, under certain conditions. The CCNE insists on the fact that this opinion is given in an emergency, while many uncertainties remain concerning the long-term effects of the vaccine.
Vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years with comorbidity is already being implemented. The CCNE considers vaccination of children aged 5-11 years without comorbidities to be ethically acceptable in the current context if:

  • (1) “real-life” safety data from countries that have already begun vaccination prove reassuring after a full vaccination schedule ;
  • (2) the implementation of this vaccination policy respects the informed choice of the parents and is not coerced;
  • (3) this vaccination campaign should not be organized in haste, but prepared with health professionals and parents, in order to respect the specific needs of the child;
  • (4) a pharmaco-epidemiological follow-up in the 5 to 11 years age group be set up by the State services with a medium-long term vision;
  • (5) the organization of vaccination of children should not interfere with the booster dose for adults, which remains essential and a priority.

Finally, the CCNE insists that this vaccination of children must be a proposal and not an obligation, and must not be included in a health pass.

Hostile parents

However, the vaccination of the youngest is not unanimously supported by opinion. According to a recent BVA poll for RTL and Orange, 55% of French people are in favor of vaccinating children between the ages of 5 and 11, but the majority of parents are hostile: 62%.
The President of the Republic himself indicated, on December 15, that the vaccination of children would not be mandatory and would remain conditional on the approval of parents.
However, many scientists remain opposed to the vaccination of the youngest, as we have had the opportunity to write here, on several occasions.

Response to the Ministry of Health