The decision to reduce the number of children who are offered Covid jabs has prompted outcry from parent groups and academics.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said children who had not turned 5 by the end of last month would not be offered a vaccination, in line with advice published by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in February 2022. UKHSA said the offer of Covid jabs to healthy 5 to 11-year-olds was always meant to be temporary.
UKHSA’s Green Book, which provides information on the vaccine rollout for public health professionals, states: “This one-off programme applies to those aged 5 to 11 years, including those who turn 5 years of age before the end of August 2022".
“Subject to further clarification, on-going eligibility in 2022/23, after the one off-programme, is expected to be for children in the academic years where children are aged 11 or 12 years.”
However, Prof Christina Pagel, of University College London, criticised the move.
“JCVI itself considered there to be a benefit to young children to be vaccinated – even if most of them had already been infected,” she said.
“There is also the additional benefit to children of providing additional protection from developing long Covid, missing school during the acute illness and reducing transmission to household members, other children and teachers.”
Pagel said that at least one serious Covid wave was expected later this year, but that many children about to start school would now have to wait six years for vaccination, with likely relatively frequent infections in that time.
“When we know there is a safe and effective vaccine available this seems unjustifiable to me,” said Pagel, adding that – while rare – children had died from Covid.
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Source: The Guardian, 6 September 2022