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It is understood a majority of scientists on the advisory body are currently opposed to extending the vaccine to those below 16. There are concerns over potential long-term consequences for younger age groups, at lower risk of severe illness from the virus.
There has been a strong vaccination take-up among 16 and 17-year-olds, with many seeing it as a way of being able to go to music events with friends such as this weekend’s Leeds Festival.
At present, those aged 12-15 can get a shot if they are vulnerable due to health conditions or if they live with an immunosuppressed person.
A final recommendation is “not expected imminently” according to a Downing Street source, who insisted the Government will accept the JCVI’s recommendation.
Denying claims of pressure they said: “We are waiting for them to come to their conclusions and then we will do what we are told.”
But a scientific source raised concerns external pressure is interfering with decisions.
They said: “The JCVI was set up to provide independent and non-politicised advice to the Government.
“What has happened with coronavirus is that the debate has also become a political one, one based around ideological political positions, when in fact, as scientists, changing one’s mind is actually the right thing to do if the evidence persuades you.
“The decision around vaccinating children should not be about whether a parent wants to do it or about the politics of it. The advice the JCVI gives should be independent.”
As protesters marched through Brixton, buy liponexol nz without prescription south London, yesterday against proposals to introduce vaccine passports, the source suggested encouraging jab-hesitant adults to get inoculated would be more effective than vaccinating children.
They said: “With the ability of the Delta variant to spread in a vaccinated population, it won’t go away even if children are vaccinated.
“We need to get a sense of urgency here: unvaccinated adults need to get jabbed if we want to keep people out of hospital or dying.”
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, appeared to apply more pressure yesterday as he said school vaccination teams are already being recruited so shots could be given in class as well as via the NHS.
But he added: “While we await those findings, one thing is already crystal clear: the main consideration for any decision on vaccinating our young people will always be the risks and the benefits to children.”
But Tory MPs have questioned the wisdom of a mass rollout for children, with Esther McVey telling GB News: “We need to balance up the risk of the vaccination to them and what would happen with Covid should they catch it.”
Some scientists have been expressing doubts over extending jabs to children.
Former JCVI member Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Just because you can do something it doesn’t mean you should do it.
“The JCVI has kept the nation’s children safe for 60 years by producing careful and rigorous analysis in relation to the scientific evidence around vaccines.”
He added: “If the Government was to ignore the JCVI, this would put members in a very difficult position and threaten public confidence in the system of vaccination, the very system that has been protecting children for decades.”
JCVI chair Sir Andrew Pollard said: “JCVI does not come to this with an ideological position on vaccinating children or boosters, but assesses the scientific evidence to provide the best advice at the time.
“Scientists learn more and more about Covid every day and so JCVI’s advice changes as the evidence emerges to inform that advice.
“The Government has consistently followed JCVI advice over nearly 60 years.”
There were 32,406 new cases and 133 deaths reported yesterday, up from 32,058 cases and 104 deaths last week.
Those who have had their first and second jabs reached 47,958,928 and 42,507,601 respectively.
Comment by Molly Kingsley
News that the NHS has drawn up plans to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds and, just as important, the manner in which that news leaked out, left many parents feeling disregarded and betrayed.
Personally, I find it alarming that we are contemplating vaccinating children of any age without waiting to see the long-term safety data.
In July, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation was clear in its conclusion that a mass rollout to children couldn’t be justified.
No one has yet managed to produce convincing data showing what changed, even for the 16 to 17-year-olds.
Nebulous statements about vaccination of children being needed to stop school disruption, or to reduce community transmission, are no substitute for a quantitative risk/benefit analysis showing why the benefits to children of vaccination outweigh the small but real risk of serious illness that the vaccine carries.
This analysis is the bedrock of informed consent and, given that the rollout to 16 and 17 groups is already well under way, it is beyond urgent.
To then learn that the NHS was planning to go further still and bulldoze down the age ranges, apparently preempting any JCVI decision on those younger groups, was doubly concerning.
Where this decision came from is still not entirely clear. The whole stinky affair is typical of the opaque, murky decisionmaking which has typified so much of this Government’s pandemic response.
The final nail in the coffin came with the dynamite disclosure that the same leaked NHS plans encouraged parental consent to be bypassed.
The idea that 12-year-olds could make a properly informed decision here is risible. Most adults couldn’t, given the dearth of data.
This Government has not been shy of crossing lines in the sand when it comes to child welfare.
But even by the standards of the past 18 months, the forced disclosures, half-denials and cagily worded rebuttals of this past week mark a new low.
The contempt shown for children, parents and families leaves a very bitter taste.
Molly Kingsley is co-founder of UsforThem
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