England’s chief medical officer has suggested that in future, children could be offered vaccination against the Chinese coronavirus to prevent “disruptions” to their schooling.
Professor Chris Whitty made the remarks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday night that the end of all lockdown restrictions would be delayed a further four weeks, until July 19th, and pledged to accelerate plans to offer vaccinations to everyone over 18.
When asked during last night’s press conference if the government were considering vaccinating children, Professor Whitty said in comments reported by the Manchester Evening News: “There are two possible reasons you would want to vaccinate children potentially, but with caution, and this is the point I’m trying to stress.
“The first would be those groups who are actually at high risk of Covid, and the JCVI [the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] will be bringing forward advice on this.
“Those children specifically should be vaccinated to reduce the risk of them having severe disease, and in a very, very small number of cases it does happen, mortality.”
He added that the second reason related to the effects of “disruptions” to children’s education, saying: “But the wider question is around the effects on children’s education, and are the multiple disruptions that might happen going to have a negative impact on their life chances, including the effect it will have on long term risk of physical and mental ill health.
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“And this is going to be a decision that will have to be based on the data we have available at the moment.”
Whitty implied that vaccinating children was not the priority at present, adding: “This big priority the Prime Minister has said is getting through all the adults down to 18 making sure they’re vaccinated and then double vaccinated.”
A Department of Health spokesman told The Telegraph: “No decisions have yet been made on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered Covid-19 vaccines. We will be guided by our expert advisers, and the Government has asked the JCVI for its formal recommendation. We will update in due course.”
In early May, Canada became the first country to authorise the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine for use on children from the ages of 12 and over, while the U.S.’s medicines agency authorised the use of the same vaccine to over-12s days later. While on May 28th, the EU regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), approved the BioNTech-Pfizer for use on children over 12.
According to the British government, 30.2 million people have had both doses of a vaccine, representing roughly 57.3 per cent of the adult population, with around 79.4 per cent have had at least one dose.
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