Worried about the spread of the Omicron variant, some scientific experts have said that primary school children, aged between five and 11 years-old, must be vaccinated otherwise in-person teaching will inevitably face major disruptions next year. For example, Deepti Gurdasani, a Clinical Epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, points to data showing that Covid is spreading more quickly in younger age groups, therefore in-person teaching in primary schools will “not be feasible” if this age group remains unjabbed. The Guardian has the story.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), said that without vaccinating children there could be further huge disruption to education and that health concerns about infection now outweighed initial justified caution in extending vaccination to five to 11 year-olds.
“There was more uncertainty earlier. It’s now becoming clearer that vaccination is generally safe and that it’s better to be vaccinated than to be infected,” he said. “To my mind it’s clear: the safest option is to be vaccinated.”
Deepti Gurdasani, Clinical Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, said that schooling would “not be feasible” next year without extending the vaccination programme to primary school age groups. “There’s been no discussion of how we’re going to protect children in January when schools reopen,” she said…
Openshaw said that there is some evidence that Omicron is reproducing more efficiently in younger age groups, meaning that the vaccination of children could be especially important. It is not clear whether extending vaccination to primary school children would be able to happen quickly enough to affect the oncoming wave of cases, which is expected to peak early next year. But Openshaw added: “The ‘too late’ argument is not a good one. We’d always prefer to have done something three months ago. The second best time is now.”
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is currently reviewing data on Covid jabs for children over five as a “matter of urgency” and expected to give a recommendation if the U.K.’s medicine regulator gives the green light for vaccines to be administered to younger age groups. June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA, has said that it is “very likely” an assessment of whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as five would be concluded before Christmas.
Worth reading in full.