Delay in vaccine decision for 12 to 15-year-olds ‘frustrating’

Jillian Evans said there would be ‘a lot of activity’ in order to reach a decision in the coming days.

Delay in vaccine decision for 12 to 15-year-olds ‘frustrating’ iStock

The delay in a final decision on whether to offer coronavirus vaccines to all 12 to 15-year-olds is “frustrating”, an expert at a Scottish health board has said.

Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, said vaccinating the age group would help prevent transmission of the virus, as well as protect children from long Covid.

In a decision on Friday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) did not recommend a mass rollout among 12 to 15-year-olds.

Instead, the UK-wide body suggested ministers might want to get further views on the wider societal and educational impacts of extending the rollout.

Chief medical officers (CMOs) from around the UK are now considering these impacts and will report in the coming days.

Ms Evans discussed the issue on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Saturday.

She said: “We know that the JCVI’s decision is predominantly based on the individual benefits and risks to a child, and not considering some of the wider impacts, and that’s what the chief medical officers will do.

“The thing about this is, it’s frustrating because it just builds in further delay in a decision that we’ve already been pushing for, so it delays things a little bit further.

“Although I’m absolutely certain that there’ll be a lot of activity going on right now and in the days ahead so we can get to a decision as quickly as possible.”

She said that although the risk of long Covid in children was deemed to be small, much was still unknown about the illness.

Ms Evans continued: “You might pick up this news and think the JCVI has said no.

“They haven’t said no – what they’ve said is on the balance of marginal benefits of vaccination against the risk of severe disease we’re saying no, but we’re leaving it open for you to consider other wider considerations.

“So people might get confused by that.”

On Friday, health secretary Humza Yousaf said he had joined his counterparts around the UK in order to ask for more advice.

He tweeted: “I thank JCVI for advice in relation to vaccinating 12-15-year-olds.

“I have spoken to other health ministers across UK and we have asked our respective CMOs to rapidly explore wider educational and societal impacts in relation to vaccinating 12-15-year-olds – as per JCVI’s suggestion.”

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