Day: 5 September 2021

News Round-Up

Keir Starmer Supports Covid Jabs For Kids and Would Vaccinate His Own 12 Year-Old

The Mirror has a scoop this evening: Keir Starmer has come out in support of the Government’s plans to vaccinate healthy 12-15 year-olds and says he’d vaccinate his own 12 year-old.

Keir Starmer has revealed that he would give his 12 year-old son a Covid jab if the vaccine to younger secondary children gets the green light.

The Labour leader said he was in favour of everybody having the vaccine “if they possibly can” to help curb the spread of the virus.

The Government’s top scientific advisers will make the final decision on jabs for the U.K.’s four million 12 to 15 year-olds within days.

Ministers are then expected to “press the button” on the NHS roll-out as quickly as possible to get needles into pupils’ arms.

With millions of secondary school children now back in the classroom in England and Wales, the Government increasingly concerned about a spike in Covid infections in coming weeks.

Ministers have confirmed that parents of 12 to 15 year-olds will be asked for consent before their children are given a Covid jab – although a loophole exists that could mean youngsters have the final say.

In an interview with the Mirror, Mr Starmer said: “Only one of our children falls into that bracket but I am in favour of everybody having the vaccine if they possibly can.

“Therefore if the advice is for that age children to have it, we would follow that advice.”

The Labour leader also urged ministers to speed up the booster process with the elderly given a third jab as soon as possible.

Worth reading in full.

Typical Starmer. Just when you think there’s a glimmer of hope that the Leader of the Opposition might actually, you know, oppose the Government, he rolls over and invites Boris to tickle his tummy.

Parents to Keep Children Away from School to Stop Them Being Influenced on Covid Vaccination

Parents say they will keep their children at home if (as seems likely) the Covid vaccine roll-out is extended to 12-15 year-olds to stop them from being “peer-pressured” into getting ‘jabbed’ because they fear children will be given the final say on the matter. The Telegraph has the story.

Family groups said that the law appears to give children the ultimate say over vaccination, with the confusion causing panic in families. …

“We have seen an incredible amount of concern among parents about the suggestion that parental consent for children as young as 12 may either be overridden or not needed if you are relying on Gillick competence,” said Molly Kingsley, the co-founder of the parent campaign group UsForThem.

“We have heard a lot of parents saying that if it happens they will keep their children off school for the duration of any vaccination programme.

“Were vaccination of children to happen on school premises without fully respecting the need for parental consent it would really prejudice parents’ trust in schools.”

Guidance circulated to NHS trusts says that most 12 to 15 year-olds should be deemed “Gillick competent to provide [their] own consent” over jabs.

That refers to a 1985 legal decision which ruled that a teenage girl could obtain contraception without her parents’ involvement. 

Children who are deemed “Gillick competent” can give consent themselves, meaning that permission from parents would not ultimately be necessary for the Covid vaccine.

Worth reading in full.

Government Advisers Tell Ministers to Ignore JCVI and Move Ahead with Plans to Vaccinate Children Against Covid

Government advisers are surprised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI) decision to recommend against vaccinating 12-15 year-olds against Covid and are encouraging ministers to move ahead with their plans anyway. MailOnline has the story.

The independent panel of experts [JCVI], which is made up of professors and doctors who routinely advise the Government on vaccination strategies, cited the fact that the Covid virus presents a very low risk to younger teenagers.

But Professor Chris Whitty and the UK.’.s three other Chief Medical Officers are now reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as minimising school absences, and are expected to present their findings within days.

Professor Peter Openshaw, of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) which advises the Government, told BBC Breakfast he was “a little surprised” at the JCVI’s decision to not back the rollout among children.

“We do know the virus is circulating very widely amongst this age group, and that if we’re going to be able to get the rates down and also prevent further surges of infection perhaps later in the winter, then this is the group that needs to become immune,” he said.

“And the best way to become immune is through vaccination, and there’s never been as much information as this in the past.

“To think there hasn’t been enough research is completely wrong.”

He added: “To my mind, the public health benefit is very, very important, and we have to take the wider view that unless we do get infection rates down amongst this particular part of the population, it will be very, very hard to prevent further large recurrences (of Covid).

“I would say that teenagers are often amongst the most altruistic and the most generous people in society.

“They often think very deeply about these moral and ethical issues and they want to protect others as well.

“So I would think that a lot of teenagers, actually, if they see the evidence in the round, would prefer to be vaccinated.”

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said Sunday that if the Chief Medical Officers recommend vaccination among youngsters aged 12 to 15 then it is “absolutely” the right thing to do, but he said he does not want to “pre-determine” that.

The Government is awaiting their advice before making a final decision but ministers and Health Secretary Sajid Javid are reportedly keen to authorise a wider roll-out.

Worth reading in full.

Almost 50 Shop Closures a Day in First Half of 2021

New research has found there were almost 50 shop closures a day in the first half of 2021, with the high street suffering the worst and almost all types of chain stores seeing a decline (unsurprisingly, takeaways and job centres grew in the period). BBC News has the story.

More than 8,700 chain stores closed in British high streets, shopping centres and retail parks in the first six months of this year, research suggests. …

But despite some high-profile retail failures, the number of closures has fallen compared with a year earlier.

City centres have suffered the worst, while retail parks are faring better.

The store closure figures were collected by the Local Data Company on behalf of accountancy firm PwC.

“After an acceleration in store closures last year couple[d] with last minute Christmas tier restrictions and lockdowns extending into 2021, we might have expected a higher number of store closures this year,” says Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC.

She believes continued Government support combined with resilient consumer spending has helped many operators weather the storm and survive the pandemic.

The Local Data Company tracked more than 200,000 stores operated by businesses with more five outlets across Great Britain. These include everything from retail and restaurants, to cafes, banks and gyms. …

Fashion retailers recorded the biggest decline reflecting the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s retail empire which saw his brands, including TopShop and Dorothy Perkins, disappear from the High Street.

More than 120 department stores also shut for good. 

There was also a decline in car showrooms, betting shops and banks, providing yet more evidence of changing shopping behaviour and the shift to online.

Data also shows that store openings were at their lowest level for six years. Leisure dominated the growth with takeaway chains leading the way.

Worth reading in full.

Nadhim Zahawi Confirms Vaccine Passports Will be Introduced at End of the Month

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi – who said the Government had no plans to introduce vaccine passports in January – confirmed on Trevor Philips on Sunday (and Sky News) that plans to introduce a vaccine status certification scheme for entry into large venues would go ahead at the end of the month. This is in spite of the fact that double jabbed people can still become infected and infected others. MailOnline has more.

The Vaccine Minister said the Government is concerned large venues “could end up causing a real spike in infections” because of groups of people mixing in close proximity.

He said the “worst thing” for those venues would be for surging coronavirus case numbers to result in an “open shut, open shut strategy” and the “best way” to ensure they can remain open for the long term “is to check vaccine status”.

He also signalled the requirement would likely be imposed on other venues.

He said at the time: “I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere. But it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing.

“As we said last week, we do reserve the right to mandate certification at any point if it’s necessary to reduce transmission.

“And I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s have had their chance to be double jabbed we’re planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.”

The Government has faced mounting Tory backbench anger over the vaccine passports plan, with critics arguing the documents are unnecessary and infringe on individual freedoms.

Worth reading in full.