CHILDREN could be vaccinated at school as part of a mass jab rollout if jabs for teens get the green light.
It has been revealed that there are “live” talks about whether to vaccinate the under-18s on school grounds so they don’t have to visit a GP or hospital.
A line of children wait to have a lateral flow Covid-19 testCredit: AFP
Union chiefs are expected to encourage the move as it means doing the vaccinations at school will save parents the hassle of taking their children to centres, the Mirror has reported.
However, experts could put a stop to the idea, after it’s expected that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reports will say more data is needed before vaccinating children.
According to The Telegaph, the committee is due to issue a statement soon after members raised concerns over the ethics of vaccinating children to allegedly protect the rest of society.
But despite this, Whitehall sources say the proposals to vaccinate over-12s were in full swing.
Ministers allegedly still had no advice from the JCVI.
A senior government source told The Mirror: “Vaccines save lives. The Pfizer vaccine has been licensed for 12-15 year olds by the MHRA and a number of countries will be vaccinating children in those age groups.
“Ministers have not received advice and no decisions have been taken.”
It comes after a government source told the Mirror “there’s a discussion to be had” about having vaccinations done for children aged 12 to 17 on school grounds, saying it is a “live” issue.
It comes as:
The source pointed out getting parents’ consent for testing had already been easier than some predicted, so consent for vaccines would not be a huge step further.
But there is also an argument for using the existing infrastructure of vaccine centres and no decisions have been taken, the source added.
A second government source said there is no formal proposal at this stage but added: “There is operational planning going on”.
UNISON assistant general secretary Jon Richards said: “If scientists decide the vaccine is safe for pupils and introducing jabs to secondary schools will be effective in combating the virus, the government must get the ball rolling.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss today said “the Government will look very closely at the JCVI’s recommendations” on whether to vaccinate children.
She added: “It is my understanding that they are not recommending the vaccination of under-18s and we will be saying more in due course about that.”
Downing Street insisted no advice had yet been received on kids’ jabs and there was no decision.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The advice would come from JCVI in the first instance, and they haven’t made any comments on that at this stage.
“We wait on that and we have constantly followed the JCVI advice on prioritisation.”
A Whitehall source said: “Nobody is going to green-light the mass vaccination of children at this stage.
“Scientists want to see more data from the US and elsewhere before taking a firm stand either way.
“Nobody is going to make a final decision at this point. The JCVI will want to weigh up the benefits against the risks before vaccinating children, and it wants more data.”
The decision is likely to disappoint some in Government.
It’s understood ministers have already instructed officials to be ready to roll out jabs for children this summer.
Many of the current vaccinations are believed to be safe for youngsters already.
Professor Chris Whitty told Brits officials are weighing up the value of inoculating schoolkids – because of the damage caused by missing their education.
The committee is understood to be preparing a statement that could be released by the end of the week.
It follows a meeting on Monday where members spoke of the serious ethical concerns involved in inoculating youngsters.
And they’ll now argue that more time is needed to look into the impact of vaccinating children in other countries – including Israel and the US – before a programme launches in the UK.
Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen are all being tested on under-18s.
In its own clinical trial, Pfizer found that the vaccine appeared 100 per cent effective.
However, no firm decision has been reached in Government over the issue – despite teaching unions calling for youngsters to get the vaccine.
That’s because children are very unlikely to be badly affected by coronavirus – meaning the jab wouldn’t be given to protect their health, but to boost the chances of a return to normality.
Last night England’s chief medical officer said officials are looking into whether pupils could be vaccinated in a bid to ensure schools aren’t disrupted again in the future.
DEBATE OF ETHICS
“There are two possible reasons you would want to vaccinate children, potentially, but with caution,” Prof Whitty said.
“The first would be those groups who actually are at high risk of Covid, and I think the JCVI will be putting forward advice on this about which of the groups they think are at particularly high risk.
“Those children, specifically, should be vaccinated to reduce the risk of them having serious disease and – in a very, very small number of cases, but it does happen, mortality.
“But the wider question is around also the effect on children’s education.
“Are the multiple disruptions Covid might have going to have a very negative impact on their life chances, including the effect it will have on long-term risk of physical and mental ill health?
“This is going to be a decision that’ll have to be based on the data we have available.
“But at the moment the big priority, as the Prime Minister said, is getting through all the adults down to 18, making sure they’re vaccinated and then double-vaccinated.”
He warned the “key thing” for youngsters is “safety”.
“We know that the risks, in terms of of physical disease to children, other than for some children with significant pre-existing problems of physical health, are much, much lower than for adults,” he said.
“So you wouldn’t want to vaccinate unless the vaccine was very safe.
“Vaccines are now being licensed in some countries and we’re accruing safety data on the safety of these vaccines in children.”
It’s believed plans to vaccinate teens at school to make things easier for parents