Coronavirus vaccines have started being rolled out to children aged 12 to 15 in England.
The jabs will be delivered primarily in schools with 3 million youngsters eligible for the vaccine across the UK and comes following questions over consent from parents.
At a glance: 5 key points
- Children will be offered the vaccines at some schools in England from Monday.
- The rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds in Scotland and Wales will also begin this week. In Scotland young people can go to drop-in clinics or wait for a letter offering them a scheduled appointment.
- For children in Wales vaccinations will be carried out at mass vaccination centres and some school settings.
- In Northern Ireland, the head of the region’s vaccination programme said jabs are likely to be offered to children aged 12 to 15 in schools from October.
- Parental consent will not be needed if a child is considered competent to make a decision by themselves.
Advice from UK Health Security Agency
Last week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it was aware of schools receiving campaign letters and emails with “misinformation” about the vaccine programme.
UKHSA has given advice to schools if protests or “disruptive activity” occurs on school premises.
“In the event of a protest or disruptive activity outside a school, or if schools know a protest is planned, they should alert the SAIS (School Age Immunisation Service) provider, local authority and police contacts to discuss the best way to manage the situation.”
School teachers and heads have also been advised “not to engage directly” with misinformation campaigns about the vaccine, but should “acknowledge receipt of concerns” and “refer to the latest scientific guidance on the issue” if necessary.
What’s been said about the government’s decision?
Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics and member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the decision of whether or not to jab 12 to 15-year-olds is not clear-cut.
He added that while it is not “essential” for the youngsters to have the vaccine it is also “perfectly sensible” for them to be vaccinated.
Health chiefs have stated that a single dose of Pfizer for those in this age group will significantly reduce their chance of getting Covid and passing the virus on.
Speaking at the weekend on BBC Breakfast, Professor Finn said the decision has been “convoluted and complex” because “there isn’t a completely clear, straightforward answer.”
He assured people shouldn’t become too “agonised” about it as the risks for children from Covid and the vaccine “are not that high.”
An expert advising on vaccines has urged parents to be tolerant of one another when it comes to deciding whether to have their children vaccinated.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has spoken out about the situation stating that for the “great majority of cases, children and their parents come to the same decision”.
The rollout to this age bracket coincides with the booster jab invites being sent out to 1.5 million people across the UK this week.
Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said it is an effort to “strengthen the wall of defence” against Coronavirus created by the vaccines.
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