A new study conducted in California has found that children vaccinated against Covid-19 are infectious for the same amount of time as their non-vaccinated peers. The study, led by experts from Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed the shedding of the virus in both vaccinated and unvaccinated children aged seven to 18. The results, based on data from April to September 2022, revealed that both groups of children were infectious for an average of three days after testing positive.
The findings add more uncertainty to the ongoing debate about the necessity of Covid booster shots for children. The study showed no difference in the duration of viral shedding between those who had received a bivalent Covid booster and those who had not. This suggests that return-to-school policies may not need to discriminate based on vaccination or booster status.
However, it is important to note that the study did not assess the vaccines' effectiveness in preventing initial infection. Additionally, the research took place before Pfizer's original bivalent booster was approved, which offers improved protection against the Omicron subvariants.
The low uptake of pediatric booster shots has been a concern, with just 39 percent of children aged five to 11 and 55 percent of teenagers reported to have received a booster dose. While bivalent boosters have shown efficacy in preventing severe cases, their ability to prevent initial infection remains unclear.
Parents' reluctance to vaccinate their children is influenced by the perception that children are less vulnerable to severe illness from Covid. However, widespread school closures during the pandemic have had significant negative impacts on children's mental health and academic performance.
Despite the ongoing debate and concerns surrounding vaccination, proponents of keeping schools open argue that in-person instruction is crucial for children's overall development. Academic achievement has suffered due to remote learning, with notable declines in math and reading test scores.
As Covid vaccines continue to be administered to children, more research is needed to understand their effectiveness in preventing infection and transmission. The findings from this study raise questions about the necessity of booster shots for children.