This week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised the British government that they were not recommending the widespread vaccination of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds against Covid-19. They said that “the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12- to 15-year-olds at this time”.
The experts also said some of their caution was required because of the “admittedly small ” risk of a rare heart inflammation arising in that age group after receiving Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It said it preferred to wait for more information about reports of myocarditis in young people following vaccination in the United States.
JCVI member, Professor Adam Finn, told Sky News that ‘the latest data from paediatric cardiologists in the US shows that there are concerns about the long-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccine for children’.
JCVI member Professor Adam Finn said that the latest data from paediatric cardiologists in the US shows that there are concerns about the long-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccine for children.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 4, 2021
The Covid-19 jabs could be doing “more harm than good” he said, as the “risk of Covid is so small in healthy children”. The JCVI said they did advise vaccinating children with chronic heart, lung and liver conditions who they said were at much higher risk of Covid than healthy children.
The British experts led to speculation that Britain might follow a different approach to the Republic of Ireland, which is pursuing broader vaccination of the demographic. Over 150,000 children in the 12-15 age cohort have so far been registered for a Covid-19 vaccine in Ireland.
However, the expert advice was said to have come as a setback for the UK government, which was thought to have preferred vaccination for that age cohort as most pupils in England have returned to the classroom this week. The JCVI advice came exactly one week on from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirming that preparations were underway to ensure the NHS was ready to offer coronavirus shots to all 12- to 15-year-olds in England from early September.
Now it is being reported that ministers might defy the advice of their own official vaccine advisors to push ahead with Covid shots for healthy 12- to 15-year-olds.
The Telegraph reports that “Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has instructed Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, to look again and see whether there is a wider benefit to society from vaccinating youngsters.”
“Mr Javid said he wanted Prof Whitty and the chief medical officers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to “consider the vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds from a broader perspective”,” the paper reported.
In late July, Ireland’s Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, confirmed that, based on advice received by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), children of that age in Ireland will be offered an mRNA vaccine for Covid-19.
While the HSE in Ireland recommends vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, on their website, they acknowledge that “in extremely rare cases COVID-19 can cause a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.