In the case you pointed out, 200,000 children were vaccinated in 1955 with a batch of defective polio vaccine where the virus was insufficiently inactivated. 200 children suffered partial paralysis and 10 died as a result. This was a disastrous accident.
It is exceptionally unlikely that such an accident could happen with #COVID19 vaccines. None of the frontrunner vaccines are 'live' attenuated vaccines, as such they cannot cause infection. Also, modern vaccines are expected to be produced under far higher safety standards.
That said, accidents can happen and no medical procedure is 100% safe for everyone, ever. Rare side effects are also expected when millions of people get vaccinated. The case for vaccination is based on a utilitarian cost/benefit argument.
Given the high fatality rate of #COVID19, the cost/benefit ratio of any vaccine - even ones that might be far less safe than the ones under advanced development - would be extremely favourable at the level of the population.
A feature of #COVID19 is the exceptional heterogeneity in mortality, with close to a ~100,000x higher risk of death for the elderly relative to young children. The risk ratio may be even higher when comorbidities are additionally factored in.
The incoming vaccines look highly safe and will undoubtedly have an overall mean positive benefit-over-risk ratio for any population. Though, assuming rare side effects are evenly distributed, vaccines will be ~100,000x more beneficial for the most at-risk in society.
Given the age heterogeneity in #COVID19 mortality, it feels a complete no-brainer to me that the most at-risk in society should be vaccinated in absolute priority. Once this will be achieved, higher population coverage can be considered, I believe, on a voluntary basis.
I worry that once those most at-risk will have been vaccinated, the bitter discussions about the ethics of 'herd immunity' strategies may be back on the table. I don't dare to envision how toxic the discussion about vaccinating children for #COVID19 could be.
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