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LETTERS: Making informed vaccine decisions for 5-11-year olds

Thursday 3 February 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTERS: Making informed  vaccine decisions for 5-11-year olds

Dear Editor, I implore parents, please ask the questions, and please weigh up the risk vs benefit of having your children injected with the Covid vaccine.

There are many experts speaking out against the Covid vaccine for children, and countries such as Sweden which have decided against recommending the Covid vaccine for 5-11 years, their Health agency arguing that the benefits did not outweigh the risks. 

The UK has a similar policy, allowing for children 12 years plus, but only allowing children 5 - 11 years to get it if they have a pre-existing health issue that puts them at serious risk (children most at risk from coronavirus).

In Norway vaccination of children and other doses to teenagers is an individual choice and not a strong recommendation from the authorities. In the assessment by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the risk of severe disease is low in children and the need for vaccines for children and adolescents is limited. Protection against transmission is poorer especially with Omicron. The offer is more relevant for children with chronic diseases.

Children are not at risk of serious illness or death from Covid. This is not disputed, it is widely reported in mainstream media. They do not readily catch Covid, spread to other children or adults, get severely ill, or die from it. No healthy young children have died from Covid in Australia or NZ. The few children that have died, all had serious co-morbidities. The average age of Covid deaths in NZ and Australia is 80+. In an article last week on Covid deaths in Fiji it reported 3 more children dying from Covid, all had significant congenital medical conditions. 

There is no long term safety data for these vaccines. They are not fully approved, they have been granted Emergency Use Authorisation by the FDA, and they have been provisionally approved by NZ Medsafe.  Safety studies are ongoing, Pfizer’s paediatric studies final report to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in children 6 months to 12 years of age is due May 2024.   

Dr Michael Kurilla, the only member of the FDAs vaccine advisory committee (from 17) who abstained from approving the shot for 5-11 years, had concerns about data collection and long term side effects, and said Pfizers’ follow up period of only 2-3 months is potentially missing some longer term side effects.

These cannot be compared to any other vaccine, they are Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, and it is so important that parents have complete and full information provided in order to make an informed decision for their children.


Serena Hunter


(Editor: According to, “Overall, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that Covid-19 vaccination is safe for children and recommends the shots for anyone 5 years or older. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases also has advised parents to vaccinate their eligible children against the disease. According to UNICEF, among the 3.5 million deaths reported in the MPIDR COVerAGE database, 0.4 per cent (over 12,300) occurred in children and adolescents under 20 years of age. Of the 12,300 deaths reported in those under 20 years of age, 58 per cent occurred among adolescents aged 10-19 and 42 per cent among children ages 0-9.)

Reply from Secretary of Health: It is becoming tiresome to be responding to the untruths this correspondent continues to write about Covid-19 and the vaccines that provide a large measure of protection from serious illness and death.

It is irresponsible that you publish these untruths without fact checking. (Editor: The claims made by the letter writer have been factchecked using credible international media sources)

The reality is that unvaccinated children do catch this illness, are seriously affected, and can die. They figure in the more than 5-million people who have died from Covid world-wide. Even in New Zealand and Australia.

On the other hand, there are no widespread reports of children being adversely affected by the vaccine.

You should be aware that overwhelmingly Cook Islands people have elected to be protected from the ill effects of Covid-19 by being fully vaccinated.

You do them a great disservice by collaborating with this correspondent in publishing this letter containing untruths and half-truths, on the day of an information meeting for parents of younger children now eligible to be vaccinated.

If she chooses not to take the vaccine and to withhold it from her children that is her choice. But it is not her right, nor yours to attempt to scare parents into withholding a safe and proven procedure from their children without a shred of supporting evidence.

It is irresponsible to intentionally publish false information.

Bob Williams

Secretary of Health