The total number of coronavirus infections among this age group in Italy has totalled 723,439 so far, including 32 deaths, according to the latest data from Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS).
The health body pointed to the spread of the Delta variant as the reason for the increase, which was behind 88.1 percent of total cases reported to their Integrated Surveillance System over the 45 days until August 30th.
As children return to school for the new academic year and authorities work to stem a new surge in infections, the Italian Paediatricians’ Association (Società Italiana di Pediatria) has issued advice to answer the most frequently asked questions about vaccination in children over 12.
“The Delta variant is causing an increase in the incidence of paediatric cases in Italy. In August, about 29 percent of the total number of Covid-19 cases involved children under 19, as can be seen by analysing ISS data in detail,” said SIP president Annamaria Staiano.
In fact, according to the bulletin data, the number of reports of cases caused by the Delta variant (lineage B.1.617.2) in Italy “is still higher than the number of reports for all the other variants monitored,” read the latest health summary.
Paediatricians recommend immunising young people aged 12 and over at this crucial time in the calendar “even if they do not suffer from other diseases, are at risk of hospitalisation or serious illnesses”.
The children’s health body reviewed concerns about side effects of vaccinating children, including fears over a heart condition called myocarditis.
“It is difficult to establish a direct link with the vaccine”, confirmed the experts, indicating that the cases that have occurred, as well as being very rare, “have all been small and resolved in a short time”.
Just under 40 percent of 12-19 year-olds are fully vaccinated in Italy, according to the latest government figures. Children under 12 can’t currently get vaccinated as no inoculations have been approved for this age group.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) continues to review possible vaccinations in children under 12.
President of the Italian Society of Paediatricians (Società Italiana Medici Pediatri), Giuseppe Mele, told reporters that the studies underway on vaccination for the youngest children are “reassuring”.
ISS data indicated that the Delta variant has been detected in almost all of Italy’s provinces, while the Alpha variant continues to drop sharply.
This is to be expected as the Delta variant “is characterised by greater transmissibility than the Alpha variant (between 40 percent and 60 percent)” and has a high risk of infection in partially vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals, according to the ISS.
Meanwhile, Italy has begun its rollout of a third anti-Covid dose to those considered the most fragile and vulnerable.