Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday railed against Covid-19 vaccines for school-aged children, falsely making his point by saying that young people — though he didn’t specify which ages — were “not affected or affected badly” by the coronavirus.
Trump’s claims in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday night come as older Americans have been vaccinated against Covid at high rates in the U.S. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration said Pfizer’s Covid shot could be given to children 12-15 years old — making it the first vaccine available for Americans under 16. Vaccine manufacturers and regulators are now turning their attention to making sure shots are safe and effective for younger children.
With vaccines protecting older Americans from the disease, younger people now make up the majority of Covid patients in hospitals — something Trump didn’t mention on Wednesday.
“Now we have to get back and the schools have to get open — frankly, we are lucky we have the vaccine. But the vaccine on very young people is something that you’ve got to really stop,” Trump said. “You have to get back to running your country — I mean, I don’t see reasons — and I am a big believer in what we did with the vaccine. It’s incredible what we did. You see the results.”
Trump continued with a claim he made last summer at the White House podium, when justifying a return to in-person schooling in fall 2020.
“But to have every school child, where it’s 99.99 percent, they just don’t — you know, they are just not affected or affected badly,” he said. “Having to receive a vaccine, I think it is something that you should start thinking about, because I think it is unnecessary.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging teens to get vaccinated, citing recent increases in Covid-associated hospitalizations and the potential for severe disease in the age group.
Children younger than 12, who are not yet eligible for a Covid vaccine, are less vulnerable to the disease but not unaffected, as the former president appeared to suggest on Fox.
More than 2,000 children have been diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome since the beginning of the pandemic, and more than 30 have died from the rare condition. The Covid-linked illness causes symptoms like rashes, conjunctivitis and stomach problems. MIS-C primarily attacks a child’s heart.
And while often less prone to symptomatic Covid-19 infection than adults, children are still Covid vectors and contribute to the spread of the virus.