Vaccinating 12-15 year olds could save up to 6,500 lives, doctors say

Vaccinating 12-15-year-olds could save up to 6,500 lives, doctors say, as pressure mounts on jab watchdogs to give green light

  • A new study from Exeter University says vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds is urgent
  • Claiming it would cut Covid deaths and hospitalizations by a fifth
  • UK vaccine watchdogs under pressure to approve introduction of vaccines for children

UK vaccine watchdogs are under pressure to approve the introduction of shots for children as young as 12, as doctors say it could save thousands of lives by Christmas.

They say vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds is urgent as it would cut Covid deaths and hospitalizations by a fifth – and protect the young themselves.

The dramatic findings, seen by The Mail on Sunday, come in a new study from Exeter University Medical School, to be published this week.

It follows Health Minister Sajid Javid’s instruction to the NHS last week to prepare to prick 12- to 15-year-olds, fearing that children going back to school could spark another wave of Covid.

But it also comes out of anger that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has still not given the green light for the shots.

A new study from Exeter University, to be published this week, says vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds is urgent as it would reduce the number of Covid deaths and hospitalizations by a fifth (stock image)

A new study from Exeter University, to be published this week, says vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds is urgent as it would reduce the number of Covid deaths and hospitalizations by a fifth (stock image)

This is despite the fact that other countries, including France and the United States, have been vaccinating children as young as 12 for weeks.

Even Australia – which has dramatically lower Covid rates than the UK – has now approved vaccines for 12 to 15 years, with the vaccine committee saying the benefits “far outweigh the potential risks”.

Tory MP and former Cabinet Secretary David Jones said last night: ‘It is welcome that preparations are now in full swing to poke 12- to 15-year-olds, but we are in danger of missing the boat as children will be murdered very soon. . back to school.’

Another Tory MP said privately that he “didn’t know why the JCVI is taking so long” to give the green light.

Others, however, insist that schoolchildren should only be poked to protect their own health – not to save older generations who are more at risk from Covid.

Sources said the JCVI is expected to make a decision within ten days.

But the Exeter University study made it clear that there is no time to lose.

dr. David Strain, an associate professor at the university’s medical school and a working hospital consultant, said the Delta variant “had changed the rules of engagement.”

He said: “This new variant produces 1,000 times more copies of itself, meaning that 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds who previously couldn’t generate enough copies of the virus to infect their parents can now.” And while earlier types of young people rarely made them very sick, Delta caused more to become seriously ill. A quarter of Covid patients in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Respiratory Department this summer are under the age of 25, he said.

It follows Health Minister Sajid Javid (pictured) last week's instruction to the NHS to prepare to prick 12- to 15-year-olds, fearing children going back to school could spark another wave of Covid

It follows Health Minister Sajid Javid (pictured) last week's instruction to the NHS to prepare to prick 12- to 15-year-olds, fearing children going back to school could spark another wave of Covid

It follows Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s (pictured) instruction to the NHS last week to prepare to prick 12- to 15-year-olds, fearing children going back to school could spark another wave of Covid

He added that he considered vaccinating younger high school students “essential.”

He and his team predict that jabbing all 12-to-15s will reduce the total number of Covid-related deaths by 18 percent and hospitalizations by 21 percent, compared to the current strategy – only vaccinating young people with health problems plus those living with ‘ at -risk’ others.

In a conservative scenario, jabbing 12- to 15-year-olds could prevent 28,000 hospitalizations across all age groups and save 2,250 lives. But if a bigger wave of fall comes, vaccinating younger adolescents could stop 77,000 hospitalizations and save 6,500 lives. dr. Strain explains why vaccinating a relatively small cohort can make a big difference and said Covid is now widespread among young people, acting as super spreaders. If they are not vaccinated, the risk of another lockdown increases.

The main reason the JCVI is hesitant is thought to be that the Pfizer and Moderna shots given to young people can cause a heart condition called myocarditis. But dr. Strain said the risk was very low — four per million in 20- to 25-year-olds. Even if the risk were double in young people under 18, ‘it would only translate to 37 cases in the UK if we vaccinated all adolescents’.

There have been two deaths worldwide from vaccine-induced myocarditis, he said. But at least four percent of young people who have become ill with the virus have long suffered from Covid.

Immunologist Professor Peter Openshaw said it is “much safer for teens to become immune through vaccination than through infection.”

A source said the JCVI considered all available evidence.

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