Covid-19: Decision on jabs for children due in days

Health / Sat 4th Sep 2021 at 01:44pm

THE government believes there is a “strong case” for offering Covid jabs to healthy 12-15 year-olds, a source has told the BBC, as it awaits advice from the UK’s chief medical officers.

On Friday vaccine experts did not recommend a rollout as the benefits on health grounds alone were “marginal”.

They have now asked the chief medical officers to consider the wider implications of extending vaccinations to younger pupils. 

A decision is expected within days.

Government sources believe vaccinating younger children could reduce disruption in schools and help keep infection rates down as winter approaches.

Up until now the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) with regards which groups should get the Covid jab has been followed across the UK.

On Friday the JCVI recommended widening the existing vaccine programmeto include an extra 200,000 12-15 year-olds with specific underlying conditions.

But they stopped short of advising in favour of vaccinating healthy children in that age group, saying “the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination… at this time”.

Prof Anthony Harnden, the JCVI’s deputy chairman, was asked on BBC Breakfast about the potential now for parents to soon be faced with having to make a decision on whether or not to have their child vaccinated when different experts had offered varying opinions.

He replied that past decisions on widening the rollout had been “fairly clear cut” but for this age group for healthy children there was not a “right or wrong”. 

Prof Harnden added: “We have done our job. We have looked at the data, we have resisted a lot of pressure in terms of people making pronouncements – but we have actually coldly looked at the data.” 

Should the jab rollout be extended, he said “parents need to understand what the risks are, what the benefits are and make up their own mind about whether they offer consent or not… vaccinating 12-15 year-olds is not a black and white decision”.

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