UK panel against giving Covid jabs to healthy young teens
LONDON, Sept 4, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The UK government's independent advisory
body on vaccines said Friday it would not recommend jabbing all 12- to 15-
year-olds against coronavirus, arguing the benefits were "too small".
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a panel of
experts which advises ministers, has been weighing the issue after numerous
other countries began giving the jabs to young teens.
It has previously recommended giving approved Covid-19 vaccines to all 16-
and 17-year-olds but only to 12- to 15-year-olds who have underlying health
conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus.
On the advice of the JCVI, Britain's four chief medical officers -- in
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- will now provide further
input ahead of a final government decision.
The committee, which focuses purely on health effects, wants them to
consider the "wider societal impacts, including educational benefits" of
whether to roll out vaccines to younger teens.
Schools have returned recently across Britain following the summer break,
with fears that this could lead to a new surge in cases after weeks of
moderate rises in infections.
In its recommendation, the JCVI argued the benefits from vaccination are
"marginally greater than the potential known harms" of the inoculations,
while acknowledging there was "considerable uncertainty" about those.
"The margin of benefit, based primarily on a health perspective, is
considered too small to support advice on a universal programme of
vaccination of otherwise healthy 12- to 15-year-old children at this time,"
"As longer-term data on potential adverse reactions accrue, greater
certainty may allow for a reconsideration of the benefits and harms."
The recommendation contrasts with the United States, which announced in
May that younger teens would be vaccinated, and many European Union countries
including France which have begun jabbing that age group.
All four health ministers in the UK wrote Friday to their respective chief
medical officers requesting they give a "broader perspective" on the issue.
"We will then consider the advice from the chief medical officers,
building on the advice from the JCVI, before making a decision shortly,"
England's Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.
Britain began vaccinations in December last year and has jabbed nearly 89
percent of all adults with a first dose, while more than 79 percent have two
The latest data from Public Health England and Cambridge University shows
vaccines have saved more than 105,000 lives and prevented 143,600
hospitalisations and 24 million cases in England, according to the