UNITED KINGDOM: NHS organisations in England have been told to prepare for the administration of Covid vaccinations among 12 to 15-year-olds, as vaccine advisers continue to consider whether to extend the programme, reports say.
The planned extension to the vaccination programme would coincide with the start of the new school year. NHS trusts have been told to have plans prepared by 4 pm on Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported.
However, Britain’s Health Department said it has not made any decision on COVID-19 vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds.
“No decisions have been made on vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds and it is inaccurate to suggest otherwise,” the department said in an emailed statement late on Wednesday.
According to the Daily Telegraph, health officials said children would not need parental consent to be vaccinated under the school vaccination programme.
“Ministers have not yet received further advice from the JCVI on this cohort. We continue to plan for a range of scenarios to ensure we are prepared for all eventualities,” the Health Department said in its statement, referring to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
The JCVI is weighing up the arguments on whether the move should be made in the U.K., with experts assessing the risks and benefits to children of vaccination.
One JCVI member, Prof Adam Finn, told Sky News this week that the committee was taking a “very cautious” approach.
Prof Devi Sridhar, the chair in global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said on the Today programme on Radio 4 on Thursday morning: “They’re waiting and watching, and I guess the issue with a pandemic is that waiting and watching cost time. Time is the currency now that matters, because it’s not like we can wait and watch and in six months say: OK, it’s safe, let’s vaccinate.”
Coronavirus vaccines to children aged 12-15 in the U.K. are currently offered only if they have certain health conditions or live with vulnerable people, but the distribution of the vaccines has already been extended to that age group by countries such as the US, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands and Israel.