KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 — The United Kingdom is expected to decide on Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 12 to 15 within days.
The UK’s independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended last Friday expanding coronavirus inoculation to 12- to 15-year-olds with certain underlying conditions.
The JCVI broadened the group of children aged 12 to 15 that it advised for vaccination — beyond the extremely vulnerable who are already eligible for shots — to include children with chronic respiratory, heart, kidney, and neurological disease, as well as children with sickle cell disease and type 1 diabetes.
However, the JCVI did not support vaccinating all healthy children aged 12 to 15, considering the margin of benefit to be too small, as JCVI awaits longer-term data on potential vaccine side effects amid reports of rare cases of myocarditis — heart inflammation — linked to mRNA vaccines.
“For the vast majority of children, SARS-CoV-2 infection is asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and will resolve without treatment. Of the very few children aged 12 to 15 years who require hospitalisation, the majority have underlying health conditions,” said the JCVI.
“The JCVI’s view is that overall, the health benefits from Covid-19 vaccination to healthy children aged 12 to 15 years are marginally greater than the potential harms. Taking a precautionary approach, this margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal Covid-19 vaccination for this age group at this time. The committee will continue to review safety data as they emerge.”
The BBC reported UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid as saying that he has asked the chief medical officers of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to consider Covid-19 vaccination for these younger children “from a broader perspective”, indicating that the rate of transmission would be a key consideration.