A member of the government’s JCVI, Professor Adam Finn, has said that we cannot vaccinate children simply for the benefit of adults
There is not enough evidence that could justify vaccinating children against coronavirus as they are “less infectious than adults” and their risk from COVID-19 is “vanishingly low”, a government adviser of vaccines has said to Sky News.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended on Monday that children aged between 12 and 15 should only get a vaccination if they are clinically vulnerable or if they live with someone who is.
The decision had been made because there is not yet enough evidence to suggest that the benefits of coronavirus vaccinations outweigh the risks for children, Adam Finn has said.
This comes after two-thirds of adults within the UK have now received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the health secretary has announced. Sajid Javid has said on Twitter: “Two-thirds of adults across the UK have now had two jabs.
Professor Finn, a member of the JCVI and a paediatrics expert at Bristol University, told Kay Burley that children are “less infectious” than adults, and the risks of them getting seriously ill from COVID are very low.
“The risk to children is vanishingly low,” he said.
“In contrast to other viruses, such as influenza, children get less ill, and they are less infectious than adults.
“With other viruses, there are big outbreaks in schools that break out into the population, whereas in schools in the UK so far, the rates of infection [of COVID] have tended to reflect the broader rate of infection in the community around them.”
Asked about the idea of inoculating children to stop them from being “superspreaders” of the coronavirus, he added: “We can’t be immunising children just for the benefits of adults, if it’s not benefiting the children themselves.”
On Monday, the UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said in the House of Commons that the JCVI is recommending that children aged between 12 to 15 should be offered a coronavirus vaccine if they have severe neurodisabilities, such as Down’s Syndrome, multiple severe learning disabilities or if they are immunosuppressed.
If they were living with someone who is immunosuppressed, they could also be offered the vaccine, he said.
Currently those aged between 16 to 18-years-old are being offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine if they are proven to be clinically vulnerable or are living with someone who is.
This comes after face coverings must still be worn on the London transport network despite restrictions easing on the 19th of July, London’s mayor says. Sadiq Khan said that he was not yet prepared to put Tube, bus and other transport users at risk by relaxing the coronavirus rules on face coverings.
But in Israel, the Pfizer vaccination is offered to all those who are over the age of 12.
Eran Segal, a scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said that the country was vaccinating children because they make up a large proportion of the country’s population.
“Israel is a very young country, 30% of population is below 16,” he said.
So by vaccinating them, he said, “this is going to help us tremendously in bending the curve” and “lowering infections overall”.
On Monday, Boris Johnson’s announcement that only those who were fully-vaccinated will be allowed to go to nightclubs across the nation from the end of September was met with much backlash.
Some have suggested this will help improve vaccine uptake among those aged 18 to 30, which is currently the lowest of all age groups.