Steven H. Baron | COVID-19, Vaccines and Children

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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According to the Office of the Governor, “Students will be required to be vaccinated for in-person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span (7-12 and K-6).” The website also states, “California continues to maintain the lowest case rate in the entire country and is one of only two states to have advanced out of the CDC’s ‘high’ COVID transmission category.” That “other state” is Florida, whose citizens have not been subjected to drastic lockdown and restrictive measures. Note the great “success” the governor claims occurred WITHOUT childhood vaccination. The website states the rationale for the mandate is “to further protect students and staff and continue supporting a safe return to in-person instruction for all students.” 

The purpose of vaccination is to produce immunity against a disease so an individual will not, at best, become infected or, at worst, become mildly infected. A compelling argument can be made that a vaccination mandate for healthy children and adolescents is NOT warranted for protection against COVID-19 and that the real and potential adverse effects of the vaccine outweigh its supposed benefits. 

Numerous studies have documented that intensive care treatment and death from COVID-19 is RARE in the age group under 18. In England, between March 2020 and February 2021, 25 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 out of a population of 12 million — a rate of about two for every million people in this age range. About half of those deaths were in children/adolescents with underlying disease. 

Similar data is found in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control reports 474 provisional deaths for the age group 5-18 due to COVID-19 from Jan. 4, 2020, to Oct. 30, 2021. In 2019, the U.S. census of people aged 6-17 was 49.4 million. Without accounting for discrepancies due to differences in the age group (5-18) dying of COVID-19 and that of the population (6-17) and the one- to two-year difference in reporting between the death and population data, 0.0000096% out of 49.4 million young people died of COVID-19. Stated another way, there was one COVID-19 death for every 104,219 people ages 5-18. Not known is how many who provisionally died from COVID-19 were healthy and how many had underlying disease. Rest assured that half or more of the deaths were in medically compromised individuals. That means that in HEALTHY young people the figure of one death in every 104,219 is an overestimate. Taking the conservative figure that 50% of those deaths were in medically compromised individuals, the calculated death rate for HEALTHY young people is one for every 208,439 people. 

There is wide discrepancy in the data reported from England and the U.S. Many reasons may account for this, including the provisional nature of the U.S. data and differences in length of time of data collection. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that COVID-19 death in HEALTHY young people is RARE. 

In the Sept. 10 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, data related to COVID-associated hospitalization in vaccinated and unvaccinated children and adolescents is presented from 14 states (including California) from March 1, 2020, through Aug. 14, 2021. There were 49.7 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 children and adolescents. That’s one for every 2,012 children and adolescents over a 17-month period, or 118 on average per month.  

The data on transmissibility of COVID-19 is complex. It appears the virus can be transmitted from any individual to any other, and transmissibility is dependent on multiple factors, such as viral load, number of people in a household, COVID-19 cases in the community studied, underlying diseases of the population studied, and a myriad of other factors. Because of differences in methodology, the rate of infection in the community studied, and other variables, making comparisons between studies is difficult and, in turn, making definitive conclusions about COVID-19 transmission problematic. Suffice to say, no matter whether the source of the infection is an adult or child, young people with COVID-19 are overwhelmingly asymptomatic to mildly symptomatic. 

The best “real life” source of transmissibility from students to parents during a pre-vaccine time span comes from Sweden, where children attend school unmasked. In March 2020, Swedish upper-secondary schools moved to online instruction, while lower-secondary schools remained open without masking. The study revealed the risk of COVID-19 infection was 17% higher among parents whose child studied at the final year of lower-secondary school compared to the first year of the upper-secondary school. If the lower-secondary school students had been moved online rather than remaining in school, it is estimated that 500 fewer detected cases among the 450,000 parents of lower-secondary students would have occurred. Thus, 0.00111111% of the parental population, or one of every 9,000, would have avoided infection. Data regarding ICU admission and COVID-related death among Swedish youth during a pre-vaccine and no masking required, but high COVID prevalence period (March 2020 through June 2020), is revealing. Out of a population of 1.95 million youth aged 1-16, there were 15 ICU admissions (four of whom had severe underlying medical conditions) and NO deaths. 

Based on the information above, the governor’s mandate “to further protect students and staff” is puzzling, especially since there was no scientific explanation for the decision. The data clearly show the risk of hospitalization and death is extremely low in a youthful population. No mention is made in the governor’s announcement about contagiousness. However, the report from Sweden in a non-vaccinated population showed low transmissibility from school-age children to their adult parents. Significantly, data is beginning to emerge showing that vaccination in adults does NOT eliminate transmissibility. Might this also be the case with children? 

Problematic is the possibility of long-term, unexpected adverse effects. In 1976, the CDC launched a vaccine program against a swine influenza, a strain that resembled the 1918 pandemic strain, because of a severe flu-like illness among Army recruits at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Forty million people were vaccinated. A small excess of risk of the neurologic disorder Guillen-Barre Syndrome was noted with an attributable risk of approximately 1 case per 100,000. Due to these concerns and the lack of progression of the pandemic, the vaccine program was stopped in December 1976. With this experience in mind, and the possibility of a nationwide mandate to vaccinate approximately 50 million young people between the ages 5-17, what could possibly go wrong? 

Particularly galling is the plethora of contradictory information and policies regarding virtually all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The American public was initially told the virus was innocuous, per Dr. Anthony Fauci and politicians of both parties. Masks were unnecessary, then became necessary. Not one, but two masks soon were recommended. Then we were told to wear a face shield on top of the masks. Masks should be worn indoors, then outdoors as well. The confusion and fear over misleading numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, along with unfounded predictions of COVID doom, still motivates people to wear masks while driving and walking alone. Municipalities got into the act with ordinances fining individuals for not wearing a mask outdoors. Lockdowns that were to last for two weeks to supposedly alleviate the presumed hospital deluge of sick patients have turned into multiple months of lockdowns in one form or another depending on locality. In the meantime, patients with heart disease, cancer and other potentially life-threatening diseases were forced to delay care because of the COVID pandemic, as these patients’ medical issues became non-prioritized early in the pandemic. Therapies such as Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine were dismissed by the medical establishment, state and national government, and mainstream media despite legitimate claims to their efficacy in early COVID infections. Vaccines became available but were dismissed as unsafe by some politicians who ultimately became among the first to be vaccinated, and now want to mandate the vaccine to various population groups. 

If this was not exasperating enough, per, “OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination at least through May 2022.” Why? Because “OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts.” This from the same government that requires drug adverse effects to be acknowledged in written, radio and TV ads; requires post-marketing surveillance of FDA-approved drugs; maintains an FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting System and Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System for health professionals and patients! 

Is the federal government also going to, without fanfare, eliminate and/or not enforce any regulations regarding reporting of adverse effects in children to encourage unwitting parents to have their children vaccinated? Given the above, would not any parent be wary of subjecting their children to a vaccine that has minimal safety surveillance? 

Steven H. Baron, M.D. 


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