Boris Johnson may have to decide for himself whether or not to extend the coronavirus vaccine rollout to children.
The idea of vaccinating children against Covid is being “very carefully”, UK Government Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said today (May 30).
Both the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) and the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) are investigating the issue in depth.
Mr Zahawi suggested that the UK Government would take the advice of experts to ensure that the vaccine is “incredibly safe” before it is introduced to children under the age of 18.
But he didn’t rule out doing so to protect the population as a whole from the ongoing spread of Covid-19.
Why the Prime Minister can ultimately make decisions about children
Despite the desire to rely on scientific advice on this matter, our political leaders, like the Prime Minister himself, will likely have to decide in the end – many parents are eagerly awaiting further details.
This is because the JCVI is unlikely to be firm in its judgment, but merely to point out a number of possible options.
Professor Anthony Harnden, vice chairman of the JCVI, said Saturday it was likely that there were “a number of options” for vaccinating children, not a recommended choice.
That would force Boris Johnson to make the delicate decision of whether to extend the rollout himself mirror.
The revelation comes in a week the Prime Minister married his partner Carrie – but also received criticism of his decision-making from former top aide Dominic Cummings.
Prof. Harnden said experts need to weigh ethical issues when considering options like immunizing children based on risk, for educational purposes, or to protect others in the population.
He added that vaccines help transmit Covid-19, but “only to a certain extent,” and therefore “I don’t think we can vaccinate children to prevent large amounts of transmission within the community”.
JCVI member Dr. Maggie Wearmouth told LBC that it had “recently” received a written request from Health Secretary Matt Hancock to address the issue of child vaccination.
She said, “We had a conversation or two, but we didn’t formulate a formal point of view.”
Prof. Harnden may have pointed out that vaccines don’t necessarily stop the spread of Covid in the community.
However, the vaccines minister made it clear that the main reason why bumps for children is included in his interviews on Sunday (May 30).
Mr Zahawi stated that while some children can become infected or develop Covid for a long time, “by and large, they are vaccinating to protect their families, communities and the country”.
He added, “So the vaccines have to be … incredibly safe before you give them to children.”
Mr. Zahawi added, “Our own regulatory agency has not yet approved the administration of vaccines to children.
“You have to make sure the vaccines are incredibly safe before you give them to children.”
He said the “infrastructure” is in place to stab children in the UK if necessary, but “clinicians need to make that final decision”.
Could we lag behind other countries in vaccinating children?
Regulators in the EU, US, and Canada have approved the Pfizer shock for teenagers ages 12-15.
A government source told him mirror Officials are ready for a JCVI decision in the near future.
A Whitehall source added, “We have followed their advice consistently and I don’t think this would change.”
But as Prof. Harnden suggested, it might be up to the government to choose between different recommendations.
How is vaccine adoption going overall in the UK?
The UK vaccine rollout is still in full swing to offer first doses to all adults by July 31st.
Fall will then likely begin with the delivery of a second dose and the preparation of booster vaccinations for the vulnerable.
It is understood that the government believes it will have offered a second dose to all over-50s and vulnerable adults by June 21 – the date on step four of the roadmap.
This comes as no surprise as they were offered initial doses by March 31st and the 12 week interval between doses has been shortened.