Children and teens aged 12-15 are to be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier this week, the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) recommended that all 12-15 year olds be offered the vaccine to help prevent transmission of the virus within schools, reduce the chance of future local outbreaks in the community, and support keeping schools open in what could be a very difficult winter. Following this decision, the Manx Gov.
The Chief Minister Howard Quayle has said: ‘The Council of Ministers has reviewed the extensive advice from the UK and our own clinical and public health teams. It is clear that while young children may be less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19, there is still the risk that some may become unwell or require hospital treatment and the vaccine will provide protection against this.
‘Furthermore, we are all aware of the impact the pandemic has had on the disruption to education of our young people, the effects this has had on their mental as well as physical health and this is something we are working hard to limit. By providing a vaccine to this age group, this will likely help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in schools, and the potential consequent disruption to our children’s education.’
Parents or guardians of children aged 12-15 are being invited to register online for their child to receive a vaccine under cohort 20. Parents are asked to attend the appointment in order to give their consent at the point of vaccination.
Alternatively, it is possible that a child can give their own consent if they can clearly demonstrate an understanding of the treatment including the benefits and risks, and have the ability to explain their reasoning to the vaccinator – this is known as the Gillick Competence.
A spokesperson for the vaccination programme added: ‘It is important to also state that this is a personal choice for both the parents and the child on whether to receive the vaccine. If parents or guardians or young people have any queries or concerns on the vaccine, there is a wealth of information online.’
Planning is in progress for the vaccination of the 12-15 year old age group to commence this month – vaccination will take place in both the Chester St Hub and High Schools across the island, and will be staffed by a combination of the Vaccine Hub team and the School Nursing team.
In a separate programme, seasonal flu jabs will also be offered this year to primary and secondary school students offering them as much protection as possible for the winter season. The flu rollout will being next month and consent forms for this have already been sent to parents.