Jabs for 12 to 15 year olds – Wales’ Children’s Commissioner says simple and clear information needed for people to make decision
The Welsh Government is expected to decide today whether to offer Covid vaccines to healthy young people aged 12 to 15.
The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have recommended that all children in the age group should be offered a single dose of a Covid vaccine.
Ministers in Wales are now considering advice from all four of the UK’s Chief Medical Officers which says the benefits marginally outweighed the known risks.
Their counterparts in England have already given the green light on the jab for 12 to 15-year-olds who will now be offered one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab and invitations for the jab will begin next week.
Wales’ Children’s Commissioner has said simple, clear, and accessible information will be needed to help children and their families make an informed decision about the Covid jab.
The decision to offer the jab to healthy youngsters comes after scientific advisers serving on the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said it was “of the opinion that the benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms.”
Writing to UK health ministers, the CMOs of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland announced their joint decision on Monday.
They said while the health benefits of offering the jab were “less clear cut” than for adults, but reducing disruption to education was important to “public health”.
The CMOs said the decision was based primarily on the impact on education for that age group.
They considered the physical and mental health and long-term prospects for children in that age group.
Speaking during a press conference in Downing Street on Monday, Wales’ CMO, Dr Frank Atherton said:
“My message to the young people of Wales will be that your CMOs are recommending that you should be offered this vaccine just as your parents and your relatives, your older relatives have been.”
“But ultimately, the choice is for you and your parents and it’s for you to now have the conversation with your parents, with your guardians, about these issues.”
“The simple point is that from a health benefit and from an education benefit, it’s better to be vaccinated than to be not vaccinated.”
“So I would be recommending it to the children and young people here in Wales”
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales Professor Sally Holland said she welcomes the fact that “the Chief Medical Officers have now reached a decision and that our own chief medical officer for Wales has confirmed that children’s rights played a central role in the decision-making in Wales.”
“My message to Welsh Government and to the Chief Medical Officer has been about the importance of simple, clear, and accessible information.”
“It needs to help children and their families understand the reasoning behind any decision, and how children’s wide range of human rights have been considered, including of course their rights to health, and education.”
“It also needs to clearly explain the benefits of the vaccine alongside any risks and any other critical information they will need to make an informed decision.”