Covid vaccine update: JCVI deputy insists children as young as 12 should get first dose

Covid vaccine update: JCVI deputy insists children as young as 12 should get first dose

Coronavirus vaccines for 12 year olds 'under review' says Harden

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JCVI(Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) deputy Anthony Harnden has insisted that children as young as 12 should get the first vaccine dose, thus making sure that the public feels “confident”. 

Professor Anthony Harnden said to Channel 4 news: “We felt confident on the basis of risk benefit that we should be widening the offer of first vaccination to 16 to 17-year-olds and review the situation with underlying illnesses with those 12 to 15.

“So, this is a very stepwise approach we haven’t changed our opinion.

“We are just taking the data as it’s arrived and made sure that we’re giving the best advice to the children, young people in this country who after all have made the biggest sacrifices in many ways to protect the older community who are much more risk of of COVID and severe complications.”

The presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy then asked: “Are the health benefits still minimal?”

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Mr Harnden replied: “They’re less, but given the infection rates that we have at the moment there are still a number of children young people aged 16 to 17 that are ending up in hospital.

“Not large numbers, but there are numbers. And of course, there is a long COVID issue which we’re very well aware of, as well as the educational and the mental health aspects of not receiving an offer a vaccination.

“What we do know is that children young people are responsible and they want choice, and this offers them choice but at the same time is keeping them safe.”

However, Krishnan Guru-Murthy pushed for answers.

He asked: “Right, but you’re not really offering choice because when it comes to 12 to 15-year-olds. The vaccine is safe, we were told. But you’re not advising taking it.  

“Why not give parents and families the choice to accept that decision that it is safe to take it if they want to, as it’s been taken in other countries?”

Mr Harnden then said that they want to take a stepwise approach.

He went on: “Well, we might do that but we want to take this as a stepwise approach, what we’ve advised to 12 to 15-year-olds is all those with severe narrow disabilities, profound and multiple learning disabilities, down syndrome, immunosuppression, household contacts of immunosuppressed all receive the offer of the vaccination.

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“We may well widen that out to more at-risk groups, and we may widen out in the future to talk 12 to 15-year olds.

“We just want to see that safety data emerges, because what we want to do is we want the public to be absolutely confident that when we give advice, it is the best advice of the children young people in this country.”

All over-12s are likely to be offered the vaccine later this year as scientific advisers become increasingly confident about the safety of the jabs.

Vaccination of healthy 16 and 17-year-olds will begin this month.

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