The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is supportive of the Government’s decision to offer one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to school children between the ages of 12 to 15 from today (20 September).
In a statement published on its website today, the RPS said it believed the ‘health benefits [of offering the vaccine to this cohort] are marginally greater than the known harms’.
‘This will be beneficial not only to this age group of but also to the wider population,’ it explained.
Last week, the Government announced that all 12- to 15-year-olds in England will be offered a first Pfizer jab starting from today, with the NHS preparing for a school-based delivery of the programme to be ‘supported by pharmacists’.
Since then, various protest groups and parents have tried to fight against the new decision to vaccinate children.
Throughout the pandemic, children had been forced to stay home and miss out on education. In part, the vaccine has been recommended to all children aged 12 to 15 to reduce further educational disruption, chief medical officers have said.
‘A lack of schooling increases inequalities. reduces the life chances of children and can exacerbate physical and mental health issues,’ RPS explained in its statement.
The body also referred to evidence from the US which suggested there is an increasing number of young children who are being infected with the Covid-19.
Finally, RPS stressed the importance of ensuring the ‘broader population view [is] also being considered’.
‘The impact of immunisation on reducing transmission of coronavirus in the wider population, including those who may be vulnerable to infection, should be considered,’ it said.
In a statement, the Royal Society of Paediatrics and Child Health (RSPCH) said the vaccination could benefit healthy children by ‘minimising disruption to their schooling’ and allowing them to ‘mix more freely with friends’.
It also said vaccination would give more protection to friends and family of school children who are more vulnerable to the virus. It would also potentially reduce the anxiety some children currently feel about Covid-19.
Like RPS, the RSPCH also spoke of how the vaccination would benefit the wider population.
‘Children, young people, and all of society will directly benefit from an increase in vaccination uptake in the adult population, particularly by those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Tackling this pandemic, which is ongoing, does not depend on vaccinating children, who have already borne a great deal on behalf of us all,’ the statement said.
However, it also said: ‘Vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds must be part of a concerted overall plan to ensure consistent and uninterrupted access to school.’
Last week (13 September), the UK’s four CMOs said that the JCVI should advise on whether and what the second dose should be given to the group once more data is available.
They were asked to review universal Covid vaccination for 12- to 15-year-olds after the JCVI stopped short of recommending expanding the rollout to all healthy children in the age group.
Health secretary Sajid Javid previously said that the jabs would be administered by school vaccination teams, as well as at other locations including GP vaccination sites, to ensure full coverage across the country.