England Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty, has announced that he is advising children aged 12-15 receive one dose of Covid-19 jab.
Joined at a briefing by the CMOs of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Prof Whitty said the decision had been a ‘difficult decision’ to make.
They said it is ‘likely vaccination will help reduce transmission of Covid-19 in schools’.
Their advice to the UK Gov said: ‘Covid-19 is a disease which can be very effectively transmitted by mass spreading events, especially with Delta variant. Having a significant proportion of pupils vaccinated is likely to reduce the probability of such events which are likely to cause local outbreaks in, or associated with, schools. They will also reduce the chance an individual child gets Covid-19. This means vaccination is likely to reduce (but not eliminate) education disruption.’
Dr Michelle McBride, the CMO for Northern Ireland has said: ‘I would wish to ensure… that the information and advice to ensure parents and children can make an informed decision is available to them.’
The JCVI had said it couldn’t recommend the jab based on purely medical grounds but the CMOs looked at other public health grounds. It will now be up to ministers in the four UK nations to decide whether to accept the recommendation of the four CMOs, if they agree, children will be offered the Pfizer jab.
What if Parents Say No?
If they are judged to be ‘Gillick competent’, children under 16 can give their consent for a medical procedure, including vaccines, ‘if they’re believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what’s involved in their treatment’. If this is judged not to be the case, then at least one parent will need to consent. Those aged 16 and over can make their own decisions except in exceptional circumstances.
The Isle of Man
While we don’t yet know what will happen on the island, the gov has previously said it would follow JCVI advice. Currently only clinically vulnerable 12-15-year-olds and those living with immunosuppressed people have been offered a jab.