Children as young as 12 could be vaccinated when the new school year begins in September under plans being drawn up by the NHS. A member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says that vaccination of the young could help to prevent a third wave of Covid infections, despite very low numbers of children testing positive for Covid after schools reopened in March – many of them falsely – and the fact that a third wave probably won’t happen anyway, according to SAGE modellers. The Sunday Times has the story.
Health officials are drawing up plans to offer the Pfizer vaccine to secondary school pupils from September.
“Core planning scenario” documents compiled by NHS officials include the offer of a single dose to children aged 12 and over when the new school year starts.
The plans, which have been confirmed by sources within the Government and the NHS, depend on advice due this summer from scientists on the JCVI. But officials are preparing for a rollout in schools. A source said: “No decision has been made yet but we are drawing up planning materials for the different scenarios.”
Professor Adam Finn, who sits on the JCVI, said the decision would depend on rates of the virus over the next few months. “We need to be in a position to immunise children, particularly teenagers, promptly and efficiently if we need to.” He pointed to recent modelling that predicts a third Covid wave will happen after restrictions are lifted on June 21st.
If rates rose significantly, he said, it would be a priority to vaccinate children to stop the closure of schools next year. “It is extremely important that education in the next academic year is not disrupted in any way.”
But Finn, a Paediatrician at Bristol University, stressed that a child vaccination programme might be unnecessary if rates dropped to a low level before the autumn. “We should only be doing vaccine programmes when we need to do them,” he said.
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