As we await the UK Government’s decision on whether it will push ahead with the vaccination of 12-to-15-year-olds, what do health experts think of the JCVI’s decision not to recommend the jab?
First published in September 2021.
After days of speculation, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced on Friday that “the health benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms. However, the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds at this time.”
The UK Government is, nevertheless, set to push ahead with the vaccination of 12-to-15-year-olds within days.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI):
“While past decisions have been fairly clear cut, it is quite reasonable for the government to seek further advice about other aspects and go ahead and have a look at it from an educational point of view.
“Parents need to understand what the risks are, what the benefits are, and make up their own mind about whether they offer consent or not.
“The health benefits from vaccinating well 12 to 15-year-olds are marginally greater than the risks.
“If the educational benefits of vaccinating make that benefit/risk balance tip towards a greater benefit/risk ratio then – with parents’ consent – it would be entirely reasonable to offer a choice of vaccination to 12 to 15-year-olds. Both the teenagers and the parents need to be involved in that choice.”
Professor Anthony Harnden. | Channel 4 News
Professor John Edmunds, Professor of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Member of SAGE:
“(Ministers) are going to take a wider perspective than the JCVI took.
“I think we have to take into consideration the wider effect Covid might have on children and their education and developmental achievements.
“In the UK now, it’s difficult to say how many children haven’t been infected but it’s probably about half of them, that’s about 6 million children, so that’s a long way to go if we allow infection just to run through the population, that’s a lot of children who will be infected and that will be a lot of disruption to schools in the coming months.”
Professor John Edmunds. | Sky News
Jillian Evans, Head of Health Intelligence and Divisional General Manager, NHS Grampian, Scotland:
“We know that the JCVI’s decision is predominantly based on the individual benefits and risks to a child, and not considering some of the wider impacts, and that’s what the chief medical officers will do.
“The thing about this is, it’s frustrating because it just builds in further delay in a decision that we’ve already been pushing for, so it delays things a little bit further.
“I’m absolutely certain that there’ll be a lot of activity going on right now and in the days ahead, so we can get to a decision as quickly as possible.”
Professor Neil Ferguson, Head of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London:
“I think the (JCVI) committee had some particular concerns about long-term follow-up data in terms of myocarditis associated with vaccination, and so took quite a conservative position, almost akin to a kind of medical regulator – which isn’t quite its role.
“So long as you’re convinced that there is some individual-level benefit, then I think it’s valid to call in the population benefits.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me that the chief medical officers taking into account these other factors, decide to go forward with vaccination.”
Professor Neil Ferguson. | IfG
— AUTHORS —
▫ PMP News reporting.
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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 6 September 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
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