Following the approval of the use of the Pfizer vaccine in those aged 12-15 by the U.K. medicines regulator, school leaders have called on the Government to vaccinate schoolchildren against Covid before the start of the summer holidays. Their hope is that pupils will be fully vaccinated before returning to the classroom in September. The MailOnline has the story.
Ministers have asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) whether to give the jab to teenagers – the current rollout is set to stop at age 18 except for children with serious health conditions.
The JCVI – which normally rules who should get a vaccine – is expected to tell Number 10 that jabbing children is a “political” decision and will leave the ball in ministers’ court.
Teaching unions and school leaders today said starting vaccinating children soon could ensure they have had both jabs by the time they start the school year in September.
But vaccinating children against the virus is a controversial issue because youngsters only have a tiny risk of getting seriously ill and their immunity would likely only protect older adults.
More than 100 cross-party MPs and the World Health Organisation have said the priority should be to get vaccine doses abroad to poorer countries where vulnerable people still haven’t been jabbed before giving them to low-risk children.
Hamid Patel, Chief Executive of the Star Academies school trust based in Blackburn – the area of the country with the most cases of the Covid Indian variant – said schoolchildren should be vaccinated as a matter of priority.
He said there would be a much higher uptake if children were given the jab during term time before the school holidays…
And Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, also urged the JCVI to consider expanding the rollout to teenagers.
He said offering them the vaccine would “protect the wider adult population who are at greater risk from Covid”.
There are “ethical dilemmas” to be considered when it comes to the decision on whether or not to vaccinate children against Covid, an expert has said.
Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chairman of the JCVI, said while a “very small minority” of children have been severely affected by the virus, children “in the main” do not get severe illness.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I think the vast majority of benefit won’t be to children, it will be an indirect benefit to adults in terms of preventing transmission and protecting adults who haven’t been immunised, for whatever reason haven’t responded to the vaccine and therefore that presents quite a lot of ethical dilemmas as to whether you should vaccinate children to protect adults.”
He added: “We need to be absolutely sure that the benefits to them (children) and potentially to society far outweigh any risks.”
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Health Secretary Matt Hancock says vaccinating children in the U.K. against Covid will take priority over donating doses to other countries.