Monday, 13 December 2021 14:27

Spain starts vaccinating children aged 5-11 as experts warn of ‘fear of needles’

Spain will begin vaccinating children aged between 5-11 from Wednesday, 15 December. Meanwhile, experts have cautioned of the challenge of overcoming children’s “fear of needles”.

Last week, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stressed that this endeavour would be a new “international success” for the Iberian country, with 80% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

“Our country has been an example for the whole world in the vaccination of the elderly and young people, and now we will also be an example in the vaccination of our children”, he stressed last week, at a socialist party meeting in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, EFE reported.

Following the European Medicines Agency’s proposal to vaccinate children below 12 with Pfizer vaccines, the Spanish health ministry decided to implement a coordinated vaccination agenda for minors last week.

The EMA concluded that, although children aged 5-11 years only suffer a mild or asymptomatic disease, the benefits of vaccinating them outweigh the risks.

In trials, the vaccine showed 90.7% effectiveness in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. Children will be given two jabs, separated by eight weeks instead of 21 days.

The first batch of 1.3 million Pfizer anti-COVID-19 “paediatric vaccines” designed for children will arrive in Spain on Monday, and a second shipment will arrive in January.

The health ministry will distribute them among the autonomous regions according to their target population as soon as they arrive. The first to be vaccinated will be children at risk and older children aged 10 and 11.

Vaccination points are open in hospitals and ad hoc vaccination centres. Five regions have opted to vaccinate in schools as well.

Experts in treating children’s pain warn that “great attention” should be given to children who are afraid of or “particularly sensitive to needles”.

“A poor approach to pain in childhood brings with it people at greater risk of suffering chronic pain”, María Jesús Vidorreta, president of the Spanish Association of Child Pain, an organisation of female health professionals, told EFE.

Children particularly sensitive to needles shouldn’t be “stigmatised by their classmates for crying or being more nervous than others”, Vidorreta added.

(Fernando Heller |