Following a request from the Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC) for recommendation on a attainable extension of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the JCVI has appeared on the accessible proof round vaccinating youngsters and younger individuals below the age of 18.
From at present, the JCVI is advising that youngsters at elevated threat of great COVID-19 illness are provided the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
That features youngsters aged 12 to fifteen with extreme neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and a number of or extreme studying disabilities.
The JCVI additionally recommends that youngsters and younger individuals aged 12 to 17 who dwell with an immunosuppressed particular person needs to be provided the vaccine. That is to not directly defend their immunosuppressed family contacts, who’re at increased threat of great illness from COVID-19 and will not generate a full immune response to vaccination.
Beneath present recommendation, younger individuals aged 16 to 17 with underlying well being circumstances which put them at increased threat of great COVID-19 ought to have already been provided vaccination.
The JCVI just isn’t presently advising routine vaccination of youngsters exterior of those teams, based mostly on the present proof.
As proof reveals that COVID-19 not often causes extreme illness in youngsters with out underlying well being circumstances, right now the JCVI’s view is that the minimal well being advantages of providing common COVID-19 vaccination to youngsters don’t outweigh the potential dangers.
Virtually all youngsters and younger individuals are at very low threat from COVID-19. Signs, when seen, are usually gentle and fewer than 30 youngsters have died due to COVID-19 within the UK as of March 2021.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the one vaccine that has been authorised for youngsters within the UK, for these aged 12 or older. This adopted a US scientific trial in round 1,000 youngsters aged 12 to fifteen that discovered unwanted effects on this group have been usually brief lived and gentle to average.
Actual-world knowledge on the security of COVID-19 vaccines in youngsters is presently restricted, however there have been extraordinarily uncommon experiences of myocarditis (irritation of the center muscle) and pericarditis (irritation of the membrane across the coronary heart) following the usage of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in tens of millions of youthful adults.
Till extra security knowledge is on the market and has been evaluated, a precautionary method is most well-liked.
Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair of the JCVI, stated:
The first intention of the vaccination programme has all the time been to stop hospitalisations and deaths. Based mostly on the truth that beforehand effectively youngsters, in the event that they do get COVID-19, are more likely to have a really gentle type of the illness, the well being advantages of vaccinating them are small.
The advantages of lowering transmission to the broader inhabitants from youngsters are additionally extremely unsure, particularly as vaccine uptake could be very excessive in older people who find themselves at highest threat from critical COVID-19 an infection.
We are going to preserve this recommendation below evaluation as extra security and effectiveness info turns into accessible.
Operationally, it’s thought-about affordable to permit a lead-in time to supply vaccination to youngsters who’re inside 3 months of their 18th birthday to make sure good uptake in newly turned 18-year-olds.