The government’s recent decision to begin distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to children in the 12-15-year age group has sparked controversy amongst both health officials as well anti-COVID lobbyists, with the government’s independent vaccine advisers saying that it is entirely up to parents to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children. This however has not prevented the recent bombardment of criticism from both sides of the vaccination argument.
This, all happening in the midst of mass debate over the concept of vaccine passports; something that Scotland has begun to enforce for entry into mass events and nightclubs. News broke out today with a statement from health secretary Sajid Javid saying that he will not be introducing the idea in England.
A COVID-19 vaccine, or ‘the vaccine’, as it has become synonymous to, has been developed by both Pfizer and AstraZeneca for mass distribution in the UK and has been given out to a substantial portion of the adult and at-risk population, and has been given the go ahead as safe by health officials in response to concerns over the ‘clinical trial’ phase that both vaccines are currently in.
Scientists from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have refused to endorse the vaccine for this age group on health grounds alone, due purely to the minimal risk associated with the virus and children, as well as some unknown risks that could be associated with the vaccines. The consensus from them is that any potential benefits from vaccinating this age group are too few to justify the potential risks as well as other ethical implications. However, despite this Wales is preparing to start vaccinating children in this age group, with English ministers seeming more and more likely to follow suit in the near future.
The World Health Organisation director-general has condemned the distribution of the vaccine as a global failure, with many third world countries such as India having a scarce few number of vaccines and being ravished the worst by the virus as it stands.
Pressures from the general public as well as the strain of COVID on NHS hospitals has forced the hands of politicians to allow this age group to receive the vaccine. The motivation for most parents will likely be the ‘superspreader’ argument, where it’s thought that young people who are asymptomatic will unwittingly spread the virus the worst; as well as the general belief that there’s a necessity to vaccinate absolutely everyone in order for the vaccine to have a reasonable degree of efficacy.
COVID cases and deaths have been steadily dropping and is seeming to coincide with the release of the vaccine. However, many fear that these numbers are just due to the warmer weather, and believe that a potential spike could occur in the coming winter months.