Covid: Children aged 12 to 15 should be vaccinated

Image credit: New Scientist

The UK’s top medical officers recommend that healthy youngsters aged 12 to 15 receive one dose of the Covid vaccination.

It would help prevent disruption in schooling, according to the CMOs. It comes after the government’s vaccine committee decided there wasn’t enough value for it to be justified solely on health grounds, but that ministers might consider other reasons. Given that the virus was expected to spread over the winter, the CMOs felt that this swayed the scale.

They said school closures were unlikely, but interruptions to face-to-face schooling were likely due to the 10-day isolation period for people who tested positive.

It will most likely be delivered in schools, and parental consent will not be required if the child is deemed capable of giving consent on his or her own.

The CMOs warned governments in a letter that missing face-to-face education has a “huge impact” on children’s physical, emotional, and life possibilities.

The vaccinations are less efficient at preventing infection against the Delta type of coronavirus than they were against prior variants, according to the CMOs, so it’s impossible to say how much immunisation will help.

However, they concluded that “on balance,” the benefits of minimizing disturbance outweighed the harm caused by vaccination, providing “significant additional value” to justify extending vaccination to healthy children in this age group.

Poorer children, they maintained, had been the hardest hit by the pandemic and would benefit the most from immunisation.

The vaccination is already available to children with medical issues and those who live with clinically susceptible people.

One out of every ten youngsters in this age group falls into this category.

Concerns over a modest but increased risk of heart inflammation following immunisation prompted the government’s vaccine committee, the JCVI, to make the decision.

They claimed that vaccination still provided a marginal benefit, but not enough to persuade them that a vaccination programme should be implemented.

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