WHO urges countries to consider the benefits of vaccinating children against Covid-19, but prioritize sharing shots globally first
(CNN) In a new interim statement , the World Health Organization on Wednesday called for nations to consider the benefits of vaccinating children and adolescents against Covid-19 -- but to prioritize sharing vaccines globally before proceeding to vaccinate children.
"Countries should consider the individual and population benefits of immunising children and adolescents in their specific epidemiological and social context when developing their COVID-19 immunisation policies and programs," said the statement, published Wednesday.
WHO has long argued that older adults, people with chronic health conditions and health workers should be prioritized for vaccines and that it is "less urgent" to vaccinate children.
The new statement acknowledges that some countries that have already distributed vaccines to those prioritized groups, including the United States, are now rolling out vaccines to children.
In addition to the US and most members of the European Union, other countries vaccinating children include Cuba, which was the first country to vaccinate children as young as 2 starting in September, Chile, China, El Salvador and the United Arab Emirates.
A push to vaccinate the worldWHO has long called for global vaccine equity.
He appealed to the world's wealthiest nations to focus on helping all countries vaccinate 10% of their populations by September 2021.
"Then when we get to the goals of reducing transmission, really down to very low levels, at that point, one might consider, of course, vaccinating children as well," Swaminathan said.
"I think the guidance on children will be very contextual and specific to local context," she said.
"But, we also need to then wait for more vaccines to have the data in children before we can make further recommendations."
WHO also states that it is of "utmost importance" that children continue to get their recommended childhood vaccinations for other infectious diseases.
"Even as countries clamor to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis," Tedros said in the July announcement.