Children aged 12 and over should be vaccinated to avoid further periods of home learning, a public health expert has said.
Professor Devi Sridhar, chairman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, made the remarks as she warned that children can still get long Covid.
A key member of Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid-19 advisory group, Professor Sridhar said it would be a “huge shame” for children to have home learning in the autumn.
She told Good Morning Britain: “If we want schools to continue without disruption in the autumn and lift restrictions so children can have a normal experience, we need to vaccinate them, and if we wait and watch for the evidence it will be too late in the next few weeks.
“We have the supply – it’s not a large amount, it’s a couple of million doses to cover that population of 12-plus.
“And we can’t use AstraZeneca – the main supply we have – in younger age groups, so we should export AstraZeneca and help countries abroad, send those doses, as well as focusing on our adolescents to make sure they don’t have another year disrupted, because that would be an absolute shame.”
The UKs medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use among children aged 12 and over in the UK.
However officials are yet to decide whether children will be included in the vaccination programme.
Professor Sridhar said: “Children can still get long Covid and can still be chronically ill from this.
“Given that we know children can transmit, where we are going to see problems going forward is not going to be in care homes, it’s not going to be in hospitals, it’s going to be in schools, because this is where you’re going to see large groups of unvaccinated kids together, and we are going to have outbreaks.
“We might as well just do it, roll it out in the summer, get those kids covered so secondary schools can go back, normally, this autumn.
“I think it’d be a huge shame for backing blended learning or having kids doing home learning in the autumn.”