New data on children's vaccination in Hungary

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A total of 225,000 adolescents aged 12-17 have been vaccinted in Hungary with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the coronavirus press centre reported on Thursday.
koronavírus vakcina

The portal also said that 60% of the 18-19 age group have been vaccinated which translates into 121,000 jabs.

According to Central Statistical Office (KSH) data, there are 198,298 people in the 18-19 age group, 60% of which equals 118,979, so either the 60% or 121,000 are incorrect, but let's say it's a rounding error.

The koronavirus.gov.hu website, however, does not reveal the most important set of data, namely the percentage of children inoculated against SARS-CoV-2 in the 12-17 age group. It is not difficult to calculate, though. There are slightly more than 590,000 adolescents in this agre group, which means that

38% of the 12-17 age group received at least one jab of a COVID-19 vaccine, i.e. 62% of them are not inoculated.

A month ago, 162,000 adolescents were vaccinated, which marks an increase of 53,000 or 38% over a four-week period. This is clearly an improvement we can attribute to the vaccination campaign in schools, although several experts were perplexed when learning that the campaign would take place in the last days of August, which leaves no time for immunity to build up before the start of the new school year.

Looking at Hungarians general inclination to get their shots, we would not be surprised to see the vaccination of adolescents fizzle out at a not so high coverage too.

The official coronavirus portal of the government also said that nearly 47,000 students showed up for their first dose at more than 2,000 schools last week. State secretary Zoltán Maruzsa told InfoRadio on Wednesday that "nearly 50,000" students received their first dose on top of the 185,000 inoculated before 1 September, so altogether there are 232,000 to 235,000 students protected with at least one dose. This translates into 38 to 40% of the 12-17 age group.

The government aims to keep schools open and maintain uninterrupted classroom learning, "because that is the best both for working parents and the children," argues the portal, recommending teachers and children to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots as those "provide the strongest protection against the virus."

Online registration is still required (at www.vakcinainfo.gov.hu, following which appointments can be booked at www.eeszt.gov.hu), although parents complain on various forums that this task is on the verge of being a mission impossible.

The COVID-19 vaccine tracker of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) causes some head-scratching, though. It shows that 16.5% of the <18 years age group have been vaccinated with at least one vaccine dose in Hungary. Wait, what? What about 38 to 40%? Well...

There is no age breakdown on the ECDC website on what size of populations it uses for the calculation of the vaccination coverages in the various age groups, so we need to rely on KSH's numbers. This leaves us five scenarios:

1.) Assuming that 16.5% of the <18 years age group are vaccinated against COVID-19 in Hungary

  • the 12-17 age group population (590 295) implies that 97 400 doses have been administered;
  • the 12-18 age group population (688 594 ) implies that 113 618 doses have been administered;
  • the 0-18 age group population (1 804 984) implies that 297 822 doses have been administered.

2.) Assuming that 225 000 doses have been administered, then

  • a 16.5% coverage would imply a <18 years age group of 262 125 people.

3.) Assuming that 235 000 doses have been administered, then

  • a 16.5% coverage would imply a <18 years age group of 273 775 people.

It's all very confusing. It would be simpler to know how many adolescents and how many doses the ECDC calculated with, but we only have the percentage (16.5%). This discrepancy should be resolved somehow, particularly as the ECDC is supposed to rely on official data provided by Hungarian authorities, only we don't know how.

UPDATE: An age breakdown of vaccines administered strongly suggests that the ECDC uses the total population of the 0-18 age group as the denominator when calculating the vaccination coverage for the <18 year age group. Given that COVID-19 vaccines are administered for adolescents under 18 only in the 12-17 age group, it is also important to see the coverage in this smaller group, as well.

ECDC's vaccine tracker up to the 35th week of 2021 shows that 282.500 doses were administered in Hungary in the <18 years age group, which shows quite a discrepancy from Hungary's own figures (225.000 to 235.000). The ECDC figure would imply a 1st dose coverage of 48% and a 2nd dose coverage of nearly 38% (nearly 222.000 doses administered) in the 12-17 age group, based on population data by the Central Statistical Office (KSH).

Cover photo: MTI/Péter Komka

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