The last few weeks have seen a lot of press and media comment on the subject of vaccination of children versus covid 19.
Advice to government on whether children should be vaccinated is being prepared by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI). JCVI is an independent group that is not a part of the government and the NHS. Based on their advice, a government policy will be developed.
It is clear that Covid has little direct impact on children (see recent BBC article on UCL research Covid: Children’s extremely low risk confirmed by study – BBC News). This may suggest that they should not be vaccinated. In addition, there are ethical arguments about medicating someone that is for the benefit of someone else (i.e. the vaccination of children is primarily to protect more vulnerable older people from the spread of the virus) especially when they lack capacity to make that decision themselves (which is the case for children).
However, children are significantly indirectly impacted by the response to covid (e.g. needing to isolate). It is also clear that whilst the risk remains very small, some children are at increased risk from Covid such as those with severe neuro-disability and severe respiratory conditions. Many of these children will fall into the category of having SEND.
The NNPCF has been made the following representations on the subject of vaccinations:
1. If evidence suggests that vaccination of children is effective and safe, it should be made available to children who are at higher risk of severe illness
2. Any decision to give the vaccine must be coproduced with parent carers and children and young people. There should be no judgement or pressure to be vaccinated or not.
3. Reasonable adjustments should be made to enable children with SEND to access the vaccine where required.
For more on the impact of on children see the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child health website Message for paediatricians on children and young people and the COVID-19 vaccination programme | RCPCH
Also see the article in the Guardian by Professor Russell Viner who spoke at the joint NNPCF / Contact conference in December. Shall we vaccinate our children? We could start by asking them first | Russell Viner | The Guardian