What has been decided, how many will get the shot and is it safe? As children aged 12-15 will receive a Covid vaccine starting next week, we answer the crucial questions
What has been decided?
The UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) have agreed that children aged 12 to 15 should receive a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Why are they doing this?
The main reason is to prevent outbreaks that lead to disruption of learning and school closures, rather than concerns about children’s health. Vaccinating a significant proportion of students would likely reduce the likelihood of local outbreaks associated with schools, the CMOs said.
How will it work?
The NHS in England has been asked to prepare vaccines for all 12- to 15-year-olds, which will largely be administered through the school vaccination programme. Vaccinations will be given in appropriate areas such as school halls by immunization teams that often include nurses, health professionals and administrative staff.
The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have agreed that children aged 12 to 15 should receive a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
The GMOs said they would like the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee to give an opinion on whether children should receive a second dose once more data becomes available internationally.
Is it safe?
The risk is very small, and the majority of children who have had the shots worldwide have no major side effects.
Studies have found a small association between the vaccines and inflammation of the heart, known as myocarditis. Research suggests that the risk is higher in boys after a second dose.
Experts have said the recommendation to prick 12 to 15-year-olds is a “good decision” that “could benefit healthy children.”
What’s the proof?
Clinical evidence shows that a single dose reduces the risk of contracting the Delta variant of Covid-19 by 55 percent and has a much greater effect on preventing serious illness and death. It also disrupts the transmission.
The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health said evidence had shown children “highly unlikely” to become seriously ill from Covid-19, but it was “extremely concerned” about the virus’ indirect effects, including disruption to school attendance.
How many will get the shot?
about three million could qualify.
Do parents have to give permission?
It is understood that parental consent will be sought in the first instance. But Vaccinations Minister Nadhim Zahawi said children in this age group could disregard their parents’ wishes “if they are deemed competent to make that decision, with all the information available.”
It is understood that parental consent will be sought in the first instance. But Vaccinations Minister Nadhim Zahawi said children in this age group could disregard their parents’ wishes ‘if they are deemed competent to make that decision, with all the information available’
Since the 1980s, children under 16 can agree to their own treatment if they are assumed to have sufficient intelligence, competence and understanding to understand what is involved.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said that in most cases, children and parents “come to the same decision.”
What can ministers do to tackle a new wave of Covid?
MASKS: Ministers surprised many in July by canceling the legal obligation to wear face masks in shops and public transport, among other things. Restoring mask laws would not be popular with Tory MPs, but is seen as an option that does little harm to the economy. Probability: 4/5
JAB PASSPORTHealth Minister Sajid Javid appeared to rule out the controversial idea on Sunday, saying it “did not go through.” But Downing Street later described vaccine passports as a “frontline defence” against rising cases and the measure will be incorporated into today’s Covid winter plan. Probability: 3/5
WORKING FROM HOME: Boris Johnson resisted a major “back to the office” push this summer after being forced to deflect the issue last year. The measure remains one of the most likely to return if cases rise again. Probability: 3/5
SOCIAL DISTANCE: Social distancing rules are seen as one of the most effective tools against rapidly rising infections, as well as one of the most disruptive measures to the economy and normal life. If the situation deteriorates dramatically, restrictions on the size of meetings could be reintroduced, but ministers are likely to oppose bringing back the one-meter rule unless the situation becomes dire. Probability: 2/5
LOCKDOWN: Downing Street said yesterday that lockdown powers would be ‘preserved’ in the plan for this winter, but only used as a ‘last resort’. Mr Johnson is said to be ‘terrified’ against ordering a new lockdown and ministers think mass vaccination will make it unnecessary. But the prime minister has had to reverse before and a new lockdown could be ordered if a new variant emerges that evades the vaccines. Probability: 1/5