Monday 13 September 2021

UK (are vaccinating kids 12+) Briefing 13th September 2021

UK (are vaccinating kids 12+) Briefing 13th September 2021

I don't usually write up the scientific and data briefings specially, but this is a biggie - it's important even if you don't have secondary aged children.

Today's briefing was with:
Chris Whitty, - Chief Medical Officer for England
Dr Gregor Smith - CMO for Scotland
Dr Frank Atherton - CMO for Wales
Sir Michael McBride - CMO for Ireland
Dr June Raine, MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency)
Prof Wei Shen Lim, JVCI (Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation)

Chris explains this is a difficult decision, and the first principle of medicine is balancing risk and benefit.


130921 COVID briefing with JCVI CMOs and MHRA Vaccination 12-15 year olds

This decision started with the MHRA approving both Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines as safe and effective for age 12+.
(They found it to be as effective in children 12-15 as in adults, with a clear result after only 1 dose. The safety matched that of young adults.)

Next the JCVI gave their medical only decisions:
a/ that clinically vulnerable children or those living with clinically vulnerable people get 2 jabs
b/ that 16 and 17 year olds get 2 jabs
c/ benefits exceed risk in children 12-15, but by a small margin (which makes it borderline worth the expense and effort on a purely individual physical health level)
The JCVI were very concerned about school disruption, and the matter was passed on to the 4 Chief Medical Officers to consider all health impacts.

The 4 Chief Medical Officers couldn't pass on the hot potato, so they had to take the decision. They have only considered risks and benefits to the child aged 12-15 being vaccinated, they have not included any benefits to anyone else.

They wanted the decision to involve all forms of health (mental, social, physical etc), so they have consulted with different health agencies and workers around the 4 nations.
Most people were concerned that COVID disruption was really affecting in-person education, and vaccination will reduce that. Disrupted education has many public health impacts, some that a child will carry with them forever.
They also looked at how giving the jab would affect medical logistics, including flu jab rollouts.

Their decision is to recommend to Ministers that the benefits of vaccination do outweigh the risks/costs/effort involved, and that all 12-15 year olds should be offered vaccination.

They are clear that they do not want any children facing stigma because they are vaccinated or not vaccinated.
Dr Frank talked about future generations and rights of children to health. He asked young people to have a conversation with their parents about the jab.
Sir Mike asked that schools and colleges have information available, so that students can make an informed decision.

Press asked 'won't it be confusing if the JCVI said no, and now you're saying yes?' Chris sighed... they knew this would be coming. I don't think people are as stupid as the press think they are.
(It'll save probably tens of families from losing a child, it'll take up weeks of people's time and cost millions. Is it worth it? Each of those families would say yes. I'm pretty sure anyone working in secondary or further education would also say yes. No-one has even mentioned Long COVID...)

There were questions about the risks - Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, enlarged heart, blood clotting etc. The risks are very small, and we're better aware now of what they might be, and we can catch them quickly.
(What we're seeing from the world, including the US CDC, is far lower than first anticipated really, the serious vaccination injury rate is teeny tiny - far lower than for COVID itself.)

Press asked about consent. No special arrangement is involved, COVID vaccination is treated the same as any other personal medical issue or in-school vaccination.
Parents sign a consent slip for in-school vaccination.
Children who have the competency to act for themselves can see a medical professional without an accompanying adult.
(Chris says that actually in almost 100% of cases children do what their parents do anyway.)

The recommendation from all 4 Chief Medical Officers is that there are direct health benefits, and indirect health benefits, to vaccination for children aged 12-15, and for now at least all young people should be offered a single Pfizer dose.

The potato now rests in the hands of the UK Government, who I believe will say 'yes' in a UK Briefing tomorrow. They will also tell us that Booster Jabs are going ahead (old news) for our most vulnerable people.
Maybe they'll even tell us why they quietly cancelled their order for 100m doses with Valneva?... 

Back tomorrow... 


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