Thousands of children in the country with a higher risk of coronavirus infection will be given the Covid vaccine.
The evidence on the damages and benefits of vaccination has been reviewed by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI).
It has suggested inoculating children aged 12-15 if they are at greater risk of Covid due to:
- Acute neurodisability (which could comprise conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism or epilepsy)
- Down’s syndrome
- A badly weakened immune system, including some children with cancer
- Intense and multiple learning difficulties
Those at higher risk who are already aged 16 or 17 can be inoculated under existing rules.
The JCVI has also endorsed immunising 12-17-year-olds who stay with people with a suppressed immune system as a form of indirect protection.
Young children reaching nearly 18
Young people who are within three months of turning 18 will also be offered the vaccination.
Born in the summer, they would be the smallest in their classes. The target would be to get them safeguarded before going to university or starting work.
Which vaccine will the children get?
The children will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the only vaccine been approved for use in children in the UK. The medicines and safety regulator has provided a license for the vaccine to be used in the over 12s.
About other countries
Various countries like Canada and Brazil have already decided to vaccinate children over the age of 12.
The EU sanctioned the Pfizer vaccine for over-12s in May – after a study established a similar immune response in 12- to 15-year-olds as for 16- to 25-year-olds. Children were also seen to experience the same common side effects, like headaches.
- In the EU – France, the Netherlands and Italy have started vaccinating children
- Germany planned to start giving the Pfizer jab to over 12s however, only if they have pre-existing medical conditions
- The US suggests that all over-12s be vaccinated, citing an exceptional but serious illness (Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome) that can follow after being infected by Covid. It is also reported to be planning to roll out vaccines to children as young as four in the coming winter
- The Hong Kong government rolled out the Pfizer vaccine to over-12s, moderately to allow them to “return to normal campus and daily life as soon as possible.”
Both Pfizer and Moderna are undertaking trials of their vaccines on children as young as six months old.
Covid lead children death so far
Almost all children and young people are at shallow risk from Covid-19. Data for England tells about 25 children lost their lives from Covid in the first 12 months of the pandemic. It also shows that the majority of them had severe health problems, including complex neurodisabilities. Only six had no established health conditions.