Covid vaccines for kids: Dr Sara Kayat on what every parent must know

A QUICK internet search for “should I vaccinate my child against Covid?” will give you more than 4billion results.

It’s a contentious issue and, as yet, the Government hasn’t officially advised parents what to do either way.

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Currently, the jabs are only available to children deemed clinically vulnerable.

They will be approved for other children once the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations (JCVI) assesses the evidence and advises the Government.

Most parents are familiar with the childhood vaccination programme and the little red book that accompanies their kids from birth to secondary school.

We vaccinate for a wide range of conditions, from meningitis to polio.

LED BY SCIENCE

But for the UK population, like others around the world, Covid is a more emotional virus. It’s taken so much from us – loved ones, our freedoms, jobs, businesses and more.

So, if you’re one of the millions of parents across the UK unsure of what to do if and when your child is offered a Covid vaccine, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Firstly, the Government has said since the start of the pandemic that it is being led by the science.

No vaccine will be offered to children and young people unless the science robustly suggests it’s a good idea and the benefits outweigh the risks.

SAFETY IS TOP PRIORITY

Secondly, we’re in a privileged position in the UK. We can look at the findings from other countries that have already started vaccinating their young people.

The US has vaccinated 6million children and there have been 518 confirmed cases of myocarditis, a rare condition that causes inflammation of the heart.

The cases have largely been seen in boys after the second dose.

As a result, scientists are now looking into the efficacy of giving young people just one vaccine, not two to reduce the risk of the heart condition.

It’s worth pointing out though, myocarditis sounds a lot scarier than it actually is and it can be treated.

Thirdly, it is important to consider long Covid and its impact on young people.

We’ve known since the start of this pandemic that young people aren’t as likely to die or go into hospital with Covid as their older relatives.

But youngsters are at risk of long Covid. The Office for National Statistics has found 13 per cent of under-11s and 15 per cent of 12 to 16-year-olds in the UK who have contracted Covid go on to suffer long-Covid symptoms.

SUPER-SPREADERS

That’s a sizeable proportion of young people suffering the long-term effects of the virus and worth noting those numbers will reduce if children are vaccinated.

What’s more, in the same way as we’ve all been wearing masks to protect the vulnerable, the argument can be made that vaccinating children is altruistic, in that it will protect the older and more vulnerable in society.

Toddlers are given the flu vaccine not because they are at risk from it but because they are super-spreaders. The same process could be applied to Covid.

It’s difficult to say at the moment what the vaccine roll- out might look like for young people. It could be a single dose with annual boosters, it could be a double dose like we’re accustomed to. Only time will tell.

We do know this virus isn’t going to go away for a long time, if ever. We also know the safety of the children and young people is the top priority for the JCVI.

Around 375,000 UK children a week are missing school because of having to isolate.

With cases of the Delta variants rising in schools, one thing is for sure – the Government and JCVI will have solid, science- backed findings and advice by the time the summer holidays end in September.

 

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