Fourteen-year-old Jack Lane was one of the first to benefit from the expansion of the UK jab rollout today. He received his vaccination at Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
Covid vaccines are being injected into healthy 12- to 15-year-olds in schools across the UK for the first time today.
A single dose of Pfizer’s jab is used in the hope that the rollout will prevent further disruptions to their education.
Parental consent is sought, but kids can overrule parents who don’t want them to get the shot if they’re deemed “authorized,” in a move that has sparked controversy.
Jack Lane, 14, was one of the first to be vaccinated in England as part of the expanded rollout.
After getting his vaccine this morning at Leigh-On-Sea in Essex, he said: ‘I’m proud to have had my vaccination so I can stay in school and continue my education – the shot was quick, easy and painless. ‘
More than 3 million young people under the age of 16 are eligible for the vaccines and ministers expect at least 60 percent of the supply to take up.
The shots are being delivered today in some schools in England and the rollout will begin in Scotland and Wales later this week. In Northern Ireland, the head of the region’s vaccination program said shots will likely be offered in schools from October.
The scientific community is divided on vaccinating healthy children against Covid because the virus poses such a low risk to them.
No10’s own advisory panel said earlier this month that immunizing them would provide only a ‘marginal’ benefit to their health, and not enough to advise a mass rollout.
But Professor Chris Whitty and key medical officers in the decentralized nations favored expanding the immunization campaign after weighing the wider benefits for children.
They said hundreds of thousands of absenteeism could be prevented and school closures avoided if the vaccines were used properly.
Fifteen-year-old Quinn Foakes receives Covid-19 vaccination at Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
Earlier this month, the JCVI said it could not recommend Covid shots to healthy 12- to 15-year-olds because the direct benefit to their health was only marginal. It also looked at the risk of health inflammation – known as myocarditis – in young people who received the Pfizer vaccine, which was still very small, but slightly more common after a second dose.
The rollout in England will mainly be in schools through the in-school vaccination service teams already running routine vaccine programs for diseases like the flu.
Schools will be used as a venue for the administration of the vaccines and the distribution of consent and information forms to students and guardians.
Teachers have been told not to hesitate to call the police to take action against anti-Covid vaccine campaigns, fearing protests at school gates over the rollout.
Adviser admits stinging would not be recommended for use in children during normal times
A government adviser admitted last weekend that the Covid vaccine would not have been recommended for children in normal times until it had been fully researched.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI), said scientists did not have the ‘luxury’ time to research the potential risks of stinging children and would usually have gathered more evidence before doing it. would recommend its use in teenagers. .
It comes after the school rollout of shots for kids ages 12 to 15 got the go-ahead last week, with vaccinations set to begin on Wednesday.
But Finn said parents were justified in waiting an additional three to six months to have their children vaccinated until the risks had been made clearer with further research, the report said. Time reported.
Finn added that the decision on whether or not to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds isn’t black and white, adding that while it’s not “essential” that they have a coronavirus shot, it’s also “perfectly sensible” is to do this.
Pfizer’s jab was approved last Monday for 12- to 15-year-olds, and pressure groups had already threatened action within hours of the announcement.
National guidelines say that if school principals get wind that a protest is being organized on the school grounds, they should “warn the local government and the police.”
Previous anti-lockdown and vaccine protests have closed streets in central London and projectiles were launched at the Houses of Parliament.
Children in Scotland can go to walk-in clinics or wait for a letter giving them a scheduled appointment.
Jabs for children in Wales will be conducted in mass vaccination centers and in some school settings.
An expert advising on shots urged parents to be tolerant of each other when it comes to deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus.
Professor Adam Finn, a pediatrician and member of the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI), said the decision to prick 12 to 15-year-olds is not black and white.
He added that while it is not “essential” for them to have a coronavirus vaccine, it is also “completely sensible” for them to do so.
The JCVI decided not to recommend mass vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds for health reasons alone, but the panel of experts suggested that broader issues, such as disruption to education, should be considered and explored by the UK’s four chief physicians .
Those health chiefs went on to say that a single dose of Pfizer for people in this age group will significantly reduce the chances of a younger person getting Covid and passing on the virus.
Professor Finn, speaking on BBC Breakfast over the weekend, said the reason the process of deciding whether children of this age should be vaccinated is ‘complicated and complicated’ is because there is ‘no completely clear, clear answer’.
But he added that people shouldn’t get too “hurt” about it because the risks are “not that high” on either side, explaining that children this age are not at high risk of Covid, nor are they at high risk from Covid. the vaccine.
Parental consent is not required if a child is deemed capable of making their own decisions, but England’s chief physician, Professor Chris Whitty, has said that in the “great majority of cases, children and their parents come to the same decision.” ‘.
It comes as booster shots are being sent this week to 1.5 million people in England in what Health Minister Sajid Javid said was an effort to strengthen ‘the wall of defense’ against the coronavirus spread by the vaccines. is created.
Revealed: the logistics of vaccinating over-12s in schools
How will it work?
The NHS has already been asked to make preparations to offer Covid vaccines to 3 million 12- to 15-year-olds.
Doses will usually be administered through the school vaccination program, which administers HPV and flu vaccinations in schools each year.
Official figures showed that nearly 90 percent of children who receive the HPV vaccine each year take it.
Children are likely to receive their vaccines in appropriate spaces such as school halls. They are delivered by nurses, health care workers and administrative staff.
Parents will receive a letter revealing plans to poke children in the coming days, No10’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi revealed today. They will also be asked to consent to their child receiving the vaccine.
Is parental consent required?
Under the age of 16 it is not automatically assumed that they are legally empowered to make decisions about their health care and thus whether they should receive the Covid jab.
But the courts have previously ruled that young people under the age of 16 have jurisdiction to consent to an intervention if they have “sufficient understanding and intelligence to fully understand what is being proposed.”
This is known as the ‘Gillick test’ and has been around since the 1980s.
The test is normally performed by a medical professional or nurse, who assesses the child’s maturity and their understanding of the benefits, harms, and potential long-term effects of vaccination. They then provide a picture of whether the child is authorized to consent to vaccination.
Can children dominate their parents?
Mr Zahawi said today that children as young as 12 years old could overrule their parents to get the vaccine.
But he admitted that this would likely be a “very rare event” for the youngest children. He also said parents should not be “stigmatized” if they hesitate to have their children vaccinated.
Mr Zahawi said children can only choose to receive the coronavirus vaccine against their parents’ wishes after meeting with a doctor.
JCVI deputy professor Anthony Harnden said there was a “sliding scale” of competence meaning it would be easier for a 15-year-old to overrule their parents than a 12-year-old who is “less likely to be able’.
Professor Chris Whitty said of medical clearance: ‘In most cases, children and their parents come to the same decision.’