Schools should still face restrictions this winter as vaccinating over 12s is not a silver bullet, warn scientists

Schools should still face restrictions this winter as vaccinating over 12s is not a silver bullet, warn scientists

09/13/2021

VACCINATING kids over 12 will "significantly" reduce the risk of Covid outbreaks forcing schools to close again, scientists declared today.

Boffins revealed getting jabbed makes it 50% less likely that youngsters will catch the virus as they extended the rollout to all teenagers.


But they also insisted vaccination alone "will not eliminate disruption" and urged ministers to keep in place measures like mass testing and ventilation.

The remarks came as the chief medical officers of the four UK nations today approved the Pfizer jab for 12-15 year olds.

Youngsters in that age group will be given a single shot rather than the full double dose because of the risk of rare side effects.

Professor Chris Whitty said the need to keep kids in school was a key part of the decision to approve vaccination for youngster children.

He told today's press conference: "We are confident about reducing disruption, we are also confident this will not eliminate disruption.

"Because it reduces the chance a child will get Covid probably by about 50-55%, and it will reduce the chances that a child who then gets Covid will pass it, on we expect it will reduce number of outbreaks in schools.

"As well as a direct effect on children it would be very surprising if it did not reduce and probably reduce to a significant extent the amount of disruption in schools if many children take this up.

Keep testing

But he added: "We definitely do not think that this alone is going to be the thing that deals with educational issues.

"It's really important that policies are kept in place that minimise – or at least policies aren't put in place that increase – the risk that further disruption will occur.

"It is pretty critical that we keep those in balance but our view is overall that we do expect it to reduce but not eliminate."

The scientists' recommendation will be swiftly signed off by ministers, with the jabs rollout set to start at schools within days.

Prof Whitty confirmed that kids aged 12 and over will be able to overrule their parents to decide whether they get the shot.

A competent child's right to choose their own healthcare was enshrined in law in a landmark 1980s ruling.

The principle of "Gillick competence" means any 12 to 16-year-old in a right-thinking state of mind can decide by themselves.

Prof Whitty said this ruling would apply to jabs but noted in most cases kids and their parents come to the same conclusion.

He said that kids that don't want the jab shouldn't be stigmatised in the playground – and that chiefs should communicate in a "child friendly way".

Dr June Raine from the MHRA said: "The benefits outweigh the risks of getting vaccinated and this includes those aged 12 to 15."

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