Chris Whitty today endorsed plans to vaccinate healthy 12 to 15-year-olds against Covid, with millions of children due to start getting their jabs from next week.
England’s Chief Medical Officer and his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said a secondary school rollout will help prevent further disruptions to education this winter.
Under-16s will initially only be offered a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine, shown to be up to 55 per cent effective at preventing infection from the Delta variant.
A decision on second doses is still to be determined, when more data is available internationally. Officials will weigh up the risk of heart complications after vaccination, which are slightly more common after the second shot.
Doses will be largely administered through the school vaccination programme, and it’s believed parental consent will be sought – but children will be able to overrule their parents in the case of a conflict.
The chief medical officers said that even though Covid poses a small risk to children’s health, the negative impacts of school closures on their life prospects and mental wellbeing tipped the balance in favour of vaccination.
If the recommendation is accepted by ministers, it will mean that around 3million more youngsters will be offered a vaccine from as soon as next week. The jabs will be rolled out as part of the school vaccination programme.
Professor Whitty and the CMOs in the devolved nations were asked to look at the ‘broader’ societal benefits of vaccinating schoolchildren at the start of the month after the Government’s advisers ruled against the move.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said immunising healthy under-16s would only provide ‘marginal’ benefit to their health, and not enough to recommend a mass rollout.
But it advised the Government to seek further advice from its chief medical officers about the wider benefits of vaccination on the pandemic, which was beyond the scope of its review.
Read more: The most predictable decision in history: All over-12s SHOULD get ‘Covid’ fake vaccines: Psychopath Chris Whitty and fellow chief medical officers (psychopath Chris Whitty) approve jabs for 3 million more youngsters – but they’ll only get one Pfizer dose (for now) because of risk of heart complication