Final decision over whether kids as young as 12 should get Covid jab to be made in days as top medics asked to weigh in09/04/2021
A DECISION on whether kids as young as 12 should get the Covid jab in schools will be made in days – after Government advisers said they wouldn't recommend it.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) yesterday passed the buck to Professor Chris Whitty after deciding they won't give the green light to vaccinations for healthy youngsters.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has urged Prof Whitty and his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to review the judgement.
And he said a decision will be made "shortly" once the chief medical officers have had their say.
Officials have now signed off on jabs for 200,000 more high-risk children.
However, they say they won't recommend them for all 12 to 15-year-olds as they only offer a "marginal" health benefit to children without long-term illnesses.
But this doesn't mean jabs for youngsters are off the table altogether.
Instead, the scientists have simply passed on the key decision to the UK's four chief medical officers (CMOs).
The CMOs will take into account other factors – including overall immunity in the population, infection rates and possible school disruption – before they advise ministers on whether to vaccinate teenagers.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation for the JCVI, said: "The JCVI's view is that overall, the health benefits from Covid-19 vaccination to healthy children aged 12 to 15 years are marginally greater than the potential harms.
"Taking a precautionary approach, this margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal Covid-19 vaccination for this age group at this time."
JCVI deputy chair Professor Anthony Harnden said there is "no precedent" for the situation.
He said the Government is urged to seek further advice "as we don't have the expertise to assess the educational aspects".
Scientists are concerned that a condition called myocarditis – swelling in the heart muscle – is more likely than average in children who get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
JCVI PASSES THE BUCK
The JCVI said the risk of Covid still outweighs this – but only very slightly, making it too close to call based on medical data alone.
The controversial move will spark a row among scientists and politicians who are fiercely divided over the issue.
Some insist children will suffer with severe infections and long Covid if they don't get jabs.
Others say the JCVI are leaders in their field and should have their concerns taken seriously without political pressure.
The Moderna Covid jab was given the ok for kids aged between 12 and 17 in the UK.
Pfizer has also been approved for anyone over 12.
Meanwhile, Sage says Brits must brace for a spike in cases now pupils are back in class.
DECISION IN DAYS
Experts have predicted a "high prevalence" of the virus in schools by the end of the month.
The overall risk of a child becoming severely ill or dying from Covid is extremely low.
In the first year of the pandemic, 25 under-18s died of the virus, while 251 were admitted to ICUs in England.
Meanwhile, all teachers and parents will have been offered the jab, with 42.3million second doses doled out to adults in the UK so far.
However, experts on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling – or SPI-M – say Boris Johnson must now plan for a jump in cases.
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