UK children aged 12 to 15 to be offered Covid jab
The CMOs said it would help reduce disruption to education.
It comes after the government’s vaccine committee said there was not enough benefit to warrant it on health grounds alone – but they said ministers could take into account other factors.
The CMOs concluded this tipped the balance given the virus was going to keep spreading over winter.
They said closures of schools was unlikely, but disruption to face-to-face education was likely given people who test positive have to isolate for 10 days.
It will now be up to ministers whether to accept the recommendation of the four CMOs.
The CMOs think a single dose will significantly reduce the chance of a young person getting COVID and passing the virus on.
When it made its decision on 12- to 15-year-olds, the JCVI advised that the UK’s four chief medical officers examine the issue further, taking into account wider factors outside the JCVI’s remit, such as the possible impact of vaccinations in minimising school disruption.
The letter said: “If ministers accept this advice, UK CMOs would want the JCVI to give a view on whether, and what, second doses to give to children and young people aged 12-15 once more data on second doses in this age group has accrued internationally. This will not be before the spring term.”
However, the chief medical officers said it must be recognised that the net benefits for vaccinating children were notably less than with adults, and “issues of consent need to take this much more balanced risk-benefit into account”.
The letter said professional medical groups should be consulted on consent issues, adding: “A child-centred approach to communication and deployment of the vaccine should be the primary objective.
“If ministers accept this advice, it is essential that children and young people aged 12-15 and their parents are supported in their decisions, whatever decisions they take, and are not stigmatised either for accepting, or not accepting, the vaccination offer. Individual choice should be respected.”