Regarding the “finely balanced” decision to vaccinate healthy 12 to 15-year-olds against the coronavirus, an expert advising on jabs said there was no right or wrong answer.
The vice-chairman of the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) acknowledged that there might be some unease for parents if the government says yes to offering vaccines to this age group, after the committee decided not to recommend mass deployment for health reasons alone. .
Professor Anthony Harnden said they are “giving the choice” in this matter by allowing parents and teens to see all the data.
On Friday, the committee said that while the health benefits of vaccination are “slightly greater than the known potential harm,” the benefits are considered too low to support universal vaccination and noted the low risk that Covid-19 presents. for young adolescents.
However, Professor Chris Whitty and the UK’s three other Chief Medical Officers of Health are now looking at the broader benefits of age group vaccination, such as reduced school absences, and are expected to present their results within days. follow.
Ministers have indicated they want to allow a larger deployment, but the government is awaiting advice from UK chief medical officers before making a final decision.
Professor Harnden told Good Morning Britain: ‘It’s very finely balanced. It’s marginally in favor, actually if you look at all the numbers – and we’ve published them – in favor of vaccination, but I understand it from a parent’s point of view and I understand it from a parent’s point of view. teenager.
“It’s not an easy decision. And, to a certain extent, by going out and saying no, if the government says yes, that creates a lot of unease, and I fully understand that. ”
He said they wanted to provide the data to everyone and that if the chief medical officers of health decide that healthy children in this age group should be offered a vaccine, they “give the choice.”
He added: “It is then up to parents and teenagers to decide whether to go ahead or not. There is no right or wrong answer to this.
When suggested to him that parents will want a clear answer on the question, he said, “Unfortunately, we don’t live in a clear world and that is the problem. ”
Dr David Strain, clinical manager of Covid services at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said immunizing children would reduce the spread of the virus in the population by around 20% and that he would have “no hesitation in everything ”to allow his children to have a Covid-19 jab.
Although he accepts that this is a “subtle balance,” he said immunizing children could help in several ways.
He told Good Morning Britain: ‘It’s also good for the children to be able to stay in school without repeated shutdowns.
“It’s good to have two parents and a full set of grandparents and all of those extra things that immunizing children will have a role in sustaining.”
The JCVI also noted the association between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and extremely rare events of heart muscle inflammation, known as myocarditis.
Although the disease may result in short periods of observation in the hospital, followed by generally rapid recoveries, the committee concluded that the medium and long-term results are still uncertain and that longer follow-up is needed to obtain a clearer picture.
Dr Strain said as a parent he had “weighed the evidence” and accepted the very low risk of myocarditis, but added: “In fact, the risk of myocarditis after contracting Covid is about the same, otherwise slightly higher. ”
The health ministry said parents of healthy children between the ages of 12 and 15 will be asked to give consent if coronavirus injections are approved for their children, as with other immunization programs.
But Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said children in this age group could override their parents’ wishes “if they are deemed competent to make that decision, with all the information available”.
Dr Strain, co-chair of the British Medical Association’s Medical Academic Staff Committee, told LBC Radio: “Many 12-year-olds are mature enough to make a decision on their own, even if not. not the same for all children.
“Doctors and nurses are trained to be able to assess and judge them competent. ”
The JCVI on Friday approved an expansion of the immunization program to an additional 200,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15 who have underlying health problems.
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This notice was published: 2021-09-07 05:00:00