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.
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