Pressure builds on ministers to reach a decision on Covid vaccines for children

Posted: July 18th 2021


This is a really thorny issue. Whilst it is not a straightforward rural/urban challenge I include this article because children in rural settings are a key part of the agenda. I also suspect their specific context and needs will not be addressed by any national decision which is made on the issue. This story tells us:

Pressure is growing on ministers and advisers to reach a decision on vaccinating children against Covid as a Sage scientist warned the current wave risks being the longest yet, with “eye-watering” hospitalisations and deaths possible before the end of the year despite the vaccine rollout.

In June the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use on children aged 12-15. In making its decision the MHRA said the jab is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits outweigh any risks. The jabs are already given to children in some other countries including 5m aged 12 to 15 in the US.

However opinion among experts as to whether the jabs should now be made available to older children in the UK appears to be divided.

While some have suggested there is a delicate balance of risks and benefits to the move, as well as ethical conundrums given vulnerable people in many poorer countries have yet to be jabbed, others stressed it is necessary to prevent disruption to education, reach herd immunity and prevent children becoming ill, including with long Covid.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has made recommendations to the government on the matter, the Guardian understands. But ministers have yet to reveal what the advice says and what policy decision has been made – a hold-up leaving some committee members baffled.