- Tory critics question why No10 ‘ignored’ the JCVI’s advice on teen vaccination?
- He argued that there is no point in pushing through the jabs at this stage of the pandemic.
- Others said the move could reduce trust in vaccines among adults.
The Tories today criticized a ‘distorted’ decision to expand the COVID vaccine rollout to children under 12.
In the first parliamentary debate about the controversial extension of the jab drive, Conservative MPs said it no longer meant Britain was passing through the ‘worst phase of the pandemic’.
He questioned the move to leave the final decision on vaccination with children if deemed competent enough, noting that experts are torn on health benefits and ethics.
Britain began immunizing healthy secondary school-aged children for the first time yesterday with a single dose of Pfizer vaccine.
It did so despite originally not being blessed by the No10 Vaccines Advisory Panel, which said the health benefits to youth were ‘modest’.
The Joint Committee for Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) left the decision to Chris Whitty and chief medical officers of developed countries. He signed off on the plans on the grounds that it could prevent hundreds of thousands of school absenteeism.
Bolton West MP Chris Green said in the Commons: ‘In many ways we can objectively say that we are passing through the worst of the pandemic and yet more drastic or authoritarian measures are being introduced at this stage. It is perverted.’
Peniston and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates, who led the debate, The reasoning behind the plans was questioned, adding: ‘Children are not disease carriers, they are not a buffer for our health system and they are not an economic inconvenience.’
And MP Derek Thomas said the decision to eliminate the JCVI’s original advice ‘very much undermines confidence in the vaccine rollout programme’.
Conservative lawmakers have condemned the government’s decision to extend the vaccine rollout to all-12s. Bolton West MP Chris Green (left) called it “perverse”, while Peniston and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates (right) said the government pressured the JCVI to make a quick decision.
Revealed: Logistics of vaccination of over 12 in schools
How will this work?
The NHS has already been asked to prepare for COVID vaccines for 3 million 12 to 15 year olds.
The doses will mostly be administered through the School Immunization Program, which administers HPV and flu vaccinations to schools each year.
Official statistics show that about 90 percent of children are offered the HPV vaccine each year.
Children are likely to receive their vaccines in appropriate areas such as school halls. They will be distributed by nurses, health support workers and administrative staff.
Parents are set to receive a letter revealing plans to respond to children in the coming days, No. 10 Vaccine Minister Nadim Zhawi revealed today. They will also be asked to give consent for their child receiving the vaccine.
Will it require parental consent?
Under-16s are not considered legally competent to make decisions about their health care and, therefore, should they get the Covid jab.
But courts have previously ruled that Under-16s are competent to consent to an intervention if they have ‘sufficient understanding and intelligence to fully understand what is proposed’.
This is known as the ‘Gillik test’, and has been in place since the 1980s.
The test is usually performed by a medical professional or nurse, who assesses the child’s maturity, and their understanding of the advantages, disadvantages, and potential long-term effects of vaccination. They then give an opinion on whether the child is capable of consenting to vaccination.
Can children beat their parents?
Mr. Jahvi said today that children below 12 years of age can refuse to have their parents vaccinated.
But he acknowledged that it is likely to be a ‘very rare event’ for the youngest children. He also said that parents should not be ‘stigmatized’ if they hesitate to vaccinate their children.
Mr Jahvi said children would be able to choose the coronavirus vaccine against their parents’ wishes only after meeting with a doctor.
JCVI deputy chief Professor Anthony Harden said there is a ‘sliding scale’ of competency, which means it will be easier for a 15-year-old to eliminate their parents than a 12-year-old who ‘needs to be understood’. Chances are low ‘enabled’.
In terms of medical consent, Professor Chris Whitty said: ‘In the vast majority of cases, the child and their parents come to the same decision.’
More than 3 million under-16s are eligible for the vaccine and ministers expect at least 60 percent to accept the offer.
Jobs began yesterday in some schools in England and the rollout is set to begin in Scotland and Wales later this week.
In Northern Ireland, the head of the region’s vaccination program said jabs are likely to be offered in schools from October.
Mr Green said there was no need to push the rollout further because of the success of adult vaccination.
He said: ‘We have seen that the first and second waves have a great impact on us. We have seen the third wave being much less effective.
‘All of our vaccines are effective against all forms of concern and at this time we see compulsory vaccination in the care sector – no doubt soon to be introduced in the NHS and then in other areas in society.
‘We see the establishment of Vaccine ID, the principal of the household ID card. There is a pause in England at the moment but we can see in Scotland and Wales these causes are being pursued.
‘In many ways we can objectively say that we are passing through the worst of the pandemic and yet more drastic or authoritarian measures are being introduced at this stage.
Lincoln’s Tory MP Carl McCartney sheds light on the issues of lack of parents…