The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is today advising that children at increased risk of serious coronavirus (COVID-19) disease are offered a vaccine.
From today, the JCVI is advising that children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
That includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.
Under existing advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should have already been offered vaccination.
The JCVI is not currently advising routine vaccination of children outside of these groups, based on the current evidence.
Until more safety data is available and has been evaluated, a precautionary approach is preferred.
Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair of the JCVI, said:
“The primary aim of the vaccination programme has always been to prevent hospitalisations and deaths. Based on the fact that previously well children, if they do get COVID-19, are likely to have a very mild form of the disease, the health benefits of vaccinating them are small.
“The benefits of reducing transmission to the wider population from children are also highly uncertain, especially as vaccine uptake is very high in older people who are at highest risk from serious COVID-19 infection.
“We will keep this advice under review as more safety and effectiveness information becomes available.
Elements of this article have been shared under the Open Government Licence v3.0.