I am very concerned about the news that, despite the JCVI’s advice against a universal programme of vaccination of otherwise healthy 12- to 15-year-old children, the Government continues to plan for an imminent vaccination rollout.
We owe it to our children – who have already sacrificed so much these past 18 months – to base such decisions on their welfare and their welfare alone.
It is important to remember that the disruption to schools has been a policy decision rather than a public health consequence. Other countries with comparable or lower covid mortality managed to ensure their children received more school education.
I urge you to join your fellow parliamentarians in signing the following open letter to Professor Chris Whitty telling him to put our children first in decisions concerning their health.
I look forward to you contacting email@example.com to add your name.
[Name AND Address]
OPEN LETTER TO CHRIS WHITTY
Dear Professor Chris Whitty
The JCVI on Friday declined to recommend vaccinating healthy children in the 12 to 15 years age group on the basis that the potential health benefit to children is so marginal that there are insufficient grounds to offer mass vaccination for this age group.
We recognise that you have now been put in the unenviable position of being asked to revisit the decision of the country’s leading independent vaccination experts, who have already said “that there is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of the potential harms” in proceeding with mass vaccination of children.
Moreover, the JCVI in their most recent statement say the “margin of benefit based primarily on a health perspective is considered too small to support advice on a universal programme of vaccination of otherwise healthy 12 to 15 year old children at this time”.
We understand that your review will include an assessment of perceived broader benefits of vaccination, and in particular on whether vaccination would assist in avoiding disruption to education. It is clear, though, that disruption to education is not an inevitable consequence of rising COVID cases. Differential approaches to school closures internationally has demonstrated that school disruption is a policy choice not a public health consequence.
Despite the fact that the UK has comparable COVID mortality rates to our European neighbours, British children have missed significantly more schooling than children in almost any other European country. We therefore urge you to make your recommendation based on the potential harms and benefits to children of the vaccine itself, and not based on the harms they may suffer as a result of potential policy decisions – as in fact Sajid Javid said just one week ago when he wrote that “the main consideration for any decision on vaccinating our young people will always be the risks and benefits to children themselves”. Our children have suffered immensely during the pandemic, and have sacrificed their education, freedom and in many cases well-being for the benefit of society. Any decision to vaccinate healthy children against COVID must be based on their welfare and their welfare alone.