We Shouldn’t Vaccinate Children as a Matter of Principle Because of the Side Effects, Says Government Vaccine Adviser

Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), was on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (around the 50 minute mark) taking a surprisingly strong line against vaccinating children because of the “side effects”. Here’s an edited transcript of what he said:

The main priority at the moment is to try and immunise as many people as possible who are at risk of getting really sick with this virus, because that’s the one thing we want avoid is another big surge of hospitalisations and deaths, and that isn’t going to happen in children. … Children are very rarely seriously affected by this infection. …

The evidence we’ve got with children, particularly young children, is that they are not very infectious to each other or to adults around them and that the majority of the transmission of the infection is in the adult population in fact. …

There is a certain amount of transmission going in secondary schools, so in teenagers, but in fact we’ve been surprised about how little transmission we’ve picked up in schools and of course this time around there’s been a lot more testing and awareness of what’s going in schools. …

In normal times, just as in pandemic times, we simply wouldn’t want to immunise anybody without needing to. It’s an invasive thing to do, it costs money, and it causes a certain amount of discomfort, and vaccines have side effects. So if we can control this virus without immunising children we shouldn’t immunise children as a matter of principle. …

I’m optimistic that we in particular in the U.K., with the high coverage we’re achieving and the extremely effective vaccine we’ve got, that we can achieve population immunity and I’m afraid it’s an open question as to whether we need to immunise any children at all and if we do how many children we need to immunise.

This is quite a change of tune for Professor Finn, who last month told BBC Breakfast that children had been “left behind” in vaccination and vaccine trials, saying: “We’re impatient now to get on and do the necessary trials in children so that these vaccines can start to be used, and actually circumstances are holding us back so it’s a very frustrating situation to be in.”

He did add, though, that side-effects appeared to be worse in younger people: “There is evidence for more or less all of the vaccines against Covid that the side-effect rate, the reactogenicity that we see, basically goes up the younger you are.”

At the time of these earlier comments the AstraZeneca trials in children were paused while the MHRA investigated blood clot links. What has Professor Finn seen since then that persuaded him that maybe vaccinating children isn’t so pressing after all? Is this a sign that the side-effects, at least in the young, are beginning to be taken seriously by the Government?

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