- In England only 20.7 percent of children aged 12 to 15 have been vaccinated
- Teaching unions describe slow pace of program ‘extremely disappointed’
- Letters to be sent to 2.5 million children in England eligible to receive the vaccine
Ministers were under increasing pressure last night to promote the Covid jab among school students following a surge in classroom infections.
According to the respected Zoe Covid study, cases of under-18s are ‘higher than ever’ – raising fears that they may pass it on to higher-risk older relatives.
Since the NHS began its rollout in schools, only 20.7 per cent of people aged 12 to 15 in England have been vaccinated.
The ministers hoped to vaccinate all the students by half term.
Teaching unions described their ‘extreme dismay’ at the slow pace of the programme, which they said was plagued with problems.
Under-18 cases are ‘higher than ever’ and only 20.7 per cent of people aged 12 to 15 in England have been vaccinated since the NHS began its rollout in schools (stock image)
Teachers have complained of too few immunizations and teams without adequate doses to meet the demand, while the ‘inconsistent messaging’ from government advisors has caused a degree of hesitation among parents.
Ministers last week opened an online booking system for children aged 12 to 15, allowing parents to take them to immunization centres. But not every clinic is able to cater to children.
Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders said Covid ‘continues to wreak havoc on children’s education’.
He added: ‘It is extremely disappointing that the vaccination program has been marred by logistical problems and unforeseen delays, and has ultimately fallen far short of its original target.
‘It was incredibly forgiving of the government for not ensuring that there was sufficient capacity to deliver this important program at the required scale and speed.
“We are clinging to the hope that allowing young people to fill their pockets at immunization centers during the half term will help increase the number of vaccinated people.” But there is still a lot to do when schools come back.
Paul Whiteman of the National Association of Head Teachers said some children were not getting a chance to respond because they caught Covid.
Letters will be sent to 2.5 million children in England to receive the vaccine, with parents invited to book a jab through the national booking service as Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said vaccines will be ‘tried and tested’ programs’ are available to young people.
He said vaccine uptake among children could never be as high as that of the wider population, and called for additional measures such as better ventilation and close contact isolation to ‘reconsider’ current guidance. “We also need a track and trace system that is working effectively.
Uptake among 12 to 15-year-olds in Scotland is more than double compared to 52.7 per cent in England.
More than 80,000 children aged 12 to 15 were booked online to receive their Covid jab in England as of yesterday morning – only 3.2 per cent of the 2.5 million eligible to receive it.
Letters will land on the doors of these 2.5 million people this week, inviting parents to book a jab through the national booking service.
Dr Bharat Pankhania, clinical lecturer in public health at the University of Exeter Medical School, said the event was poorly organized, adding: ‘There are not enough staff to meet the demands placed on them.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Vaccines are available to youth through a tried and tested school immunization program and a parent or guardian can book a jab at local vaccination sites.’