Children could be given Covid jabs to stop the virus disrupting their education or increasing their future risk of physical or mental health problems.
Professor Chris Whitty said today that officials were still considering whether to vaccinate children but that the ‘big priority’ is now reaching over-18s over summer. Regulators have begun approving vaccines for children – Pfizer’s jab has been deemed safe for anyone aged 12 or over – but ministers have not yet decided what to do.
The issue is a thorny one because most children would not be getting a jab to protect their own health but to boost the chances of society getting back to normal.
Therefore any side effects they might have could outweigh their personal benefit.
For adults, the much-reduced risk of dying if they catch the virus is generally enough to make it an obvious choice, but children almost never die of Covid. Professor Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said a major consideration could become whether constant Covid outbreaks in schools could damage children’s education and life chances, and whether avoiding this through vaccination would be the sensible choice.