As a paediatrician, I believe it’s right to vaccinate young people aged 12 to 15
There are no simple solutions to Covid, but children themselves will, on balance, benefit from being vaccinated
Russell Viner is a paediatrician and professor at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
The UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) have recommended that Covid-19 vaccinations be offered to all children aged 12 to 15. The the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), that guides vaccination decisions, originally advised that there were insufficient medical grounds to recommend vaccination of healthy 12- to 15-year-olds without other medical conditions – in other words that the margin of benefit was too small to make it worthwhile.But the CMOs were asked by the secretary of state for health and social care to also consider possible benefits for education and mental health – issues beyond the JCVI’s remit.
Decisions about vaccinating children have multiple moving parts. We must balance the risks and benefits of vaccination for the young person themselves, while at the same time considering the ethical issues involved in securing an overall increase in the vaccination rate of wider society by vaccinating children – a group who are less likely to experience serious Covid symptoms themselves.