Child vaccination roll out labelled ‘shambolic' by medical leader

Vaccination, Children, Coronavirus, Royal College of Paediatrics

Teenagers aged over 16 will be offered the Pfizer Covid vaccine (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The vaccination roll out for children has been labelled “frankly shambolic” by the head of a medical Royal college who said doctors were “in the dark” over what was being planned.

The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) announced plans to extend first dose vaccinations to all over 16’s yesterday with potential for this to extend to children aged 12 and over in coming weeks.

The announcement comes just two weeks after the JCVI said the benefits of vaccination was “minimal” and did not outweigh the risks. Its view has changed in light of new data, chair Professor Wei Shen Lim said yesterday.

The news sparked an angry response from Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who said the planning for the roll out was not good enough.

In a statement, the consultant neonatologist said: “The roll out of the vaccine programme for adults has been incredibly impressive but, for children and young people, it has been frankly shambolic. This is the second announcement around vaccinations for children or young people in the last three weeks, but we still haven’t seen detailed plans for roll out of the first.”

She added: “Once again, paediatricians have been left completely in the dark about how and when children and young people will be invited for vaccination. There has been no information to parents and none to young people themselves and that creates confusion and, for some families, real worry.

“Our members are constantly being asked questions by young people or their parents for which they don’t have the answers because the systems aren’t in place and the detailed advice has not been provided.”

She said in England the national vaccine booking system was still not accepting bookings for anyone under the age of 18 two weeks after the announcement.

She also said it was important the NHS and parents continued with routine immunisations against other diseases.

NHS England wrote to GPs and hospitals in July urging them to prepare to vaccinate children as young as 12 who were eligible for a Covid jab before returning to school in September.

It said children had to be offered a first dose before returning to school in September but it’s not yet clear if this will be applied to all children now eligible for a jab with only three weeks to go before the end of the month.

Recent studies have found some 5,830 children and young people have been admitted to hospital since the beginning of the pandemic, with children facing a one in 50,000 chance of being admitted to intensive care with the virus.

The UK’s position not to vaccinate younger children is at odds with many European countries and the USA, which have decided to vaccinate those aged over 12.

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