- Title: Britain says most children will not be given COVID jabs
- Date: 19th July 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 19, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AND DEPUTY CHAIR OF JCVI, ANTHONY HARNDEN, SAYING: "The majority of children who develop COVID-19 have a a mild and self-limiting illness, so we just don't see the same sort of severity or complication rate as we do in older people. So we have to look very carefully at the benefits of vaccines versus the risk, and the benefits have to be such that they would outweigh the risks." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AND DEPUTY CHAIR OF JCVI, ANTHONY HARNDEN, SAYING: "The risks of these vaccines is emerging evidence that there are cases of heart inflammation, following particularly the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and we want to see what the true incidence rates of those are in the countries which are using it around the world before we would ever recommend universal vaccination in children in this country." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AND DEPUTY CHAIR OF JCVI, ANTHONY HARNDEN, SAYING: "I don't think we really know what the true level of immunity within the country to protect population is. It is inevitable that children will get COVID because it's so highly infectious. What we do know is that COVID will give you natural immunity and vaccinations will give you immunity. So, the general immunity in the population is building, whether it be from natural infection or vaccination, and that clearly is a useful thing, but whether that gives you herd immunity we don't know. And lots still to find out about this virus; how it mutates and what those mutations mean for a immune population is still poorly understood." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AND DEPUTY CHAIR OF JCVI, ANTHONY HARNDEN, SAYING: "Other countries have made very different decisions to JCVI. We've examined our own evidence. I mean, for instance, other countries went with a shorter dosage. Now we're quite clear that the maximum efficacy and the immunogenicity of these vaccines is much better if you give a longer dose interval. So we don't always follow other countries. We should make our own decisions based on the evidence available to us and the overwhelming evidence is that this is a mild disease in children and that these vaccines are still producing a safety signal, which is rare but important, and we want to be quite clear that the benefits to children outweigh any risks." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AND DEPUTY CHAIR OF JCVI, ANTHONY HARNDEN, SAYING: (ON WHAT EVIDENCE WOULD BE NEEDED TO CHANGE ADVICE) "In terms of universal vaccination, we want to get a clear instant rate of the adverse event which is being seen - that's the inflammation of the heart that's being seen due to the Pfizer vaccine, particularly in younger people. The younger they get, the more frequent that rate seems to be. So we want to get an idea on that. And secondly, we want to keep looking at data on specific risk groups of children to see whether there are other risk groups that we could widen this out to that are particularly prone to severe COVID."
- Embargoed: 2nd August 2021 17:43
- Keywords: Anthony Harnden COVID-19 JCVI Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation children coronavirus vaccines young people
- Location: LONDON AND STEVENAGE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / NEW HYDE PARK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: LONDON AND STEVENAGE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / NEW HYDE PARK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA002EMIC4LJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Britain said on Monday (July 19) it had decided against giving mass COVID-19 vaccinations to all children and that they would only be offered in certain situations, such as when a young person has underlying health conditions.
Compared with adults, children are much less likely to develop severe illness following infection with the coronavirus.
But the majority of British parents in a survey this month said they favoured giving their children a vaccine if offered it.
Children with severe neurodisabilities, Down's Syndrome, immunosuppression and profound and multiple learning disabilities will be eligible for the vaccine in new guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair of the JCVI, told Reuters that any benefits of vaccines being administered to children had to outweigh any potential risks.
One such risk regards emerging evidence of heart inflammation in younger people following the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
However, Britain's decision is at odds with those taken in countries such as the United States where children over the age of 12 are being vaccinated.
Harnden said the JCVI would monitor the vaccine rollout to children around the world and will review the advice if necessary.
The British government said fewer than 30 children with the virus died in the United Kingdom up to March this year.
(Production: Ben Dangerfield)
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