Leitch urges parents to take up vaccine offer for five to 11-year-olds

Scotland's national clinical director urged people to speak with vaccinators if they have any questions about the vaccine.

Jason Leitch recommends parents take up Covid vaccine offer to children aged five to 11-years-old iStock
The JCVI issued advice recommending that children aged five to 11-year-olds should be offered the Covid vaccine.

Jason Leitch has recommended that parents take their five to 11-year-olds to be vaccinated against Covid, but has urged them to do so in a “considered and gradual way”.

It comes after the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued advice that vaccines should be offered for that age group.

Discussions with health boards are now under way over the best way of delivering the vaccinations.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Thursday, Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said that parents should not panic and rush over the update advice.

And he explained that vaccination experts had considered the balance of risk now being in favour of offering the jab to young people in that age group.

“What they’re suggesting is that the balance of risk has now moved,” he said.

“So, this science is unfortunately quite tricky and it changes. It would be lovely if the pandemic science was the same in March 2020 as it is in February ’22, but it isn’t.

“And this group of experts, who do vaccination for a living, this is their job, they have now said that the balance of risk is now in favour, particularly because of rare, severe disease in young people, still very rare but possible, that we should offer a vaccination to all five to 11-year-olds.

“In full conversation with parents, carers, young people – don’t panic and do it all tomorrow.

“Do it in a considered and gradual way.”

Leitch suggested that parents, carers and young people should speak with vaccinators in order to discuss any questions they may have over the vaccine.

Asked if he would recommend that parents should get their kids vaccinated, he said: “Yes, it is, unless you have a contraindication or a reason not to do that, for instance, a medical reason in one of your children, or something else going on.

“I would suggest you have a conversation with a vaccinator once those appointments come out, discuss anything you want to talk about.

“They’re trained, they can answer your questions. If they don’t know the specific answer to your kid’s challenge, if they’ve got a rare complication or something, then they’ll have somebody else in the clinic who’ll be able to help them with that.

“So, yes, it’s my strong recommendation that you think very, very carefully about vaccinating your five to 11-year-old.”

Leitch also warned people not to treat coronavirus lightly, despite the country having passed the peak of the Omicron variant.

“It’s unusual, but we’re still hearing of children getting quite sick with this disease,” he said.

“Some people listening will have sailed through Omicron in particular and think, ‘this is nothing’.

“The reason it feels like that is, in the main, the wall of vaccination we’ve put up as a population against it.

“So, don’t treat it lightly, it’s still a very, very serious disease.”