UK Vaccine Body Protects 12-15 Year Olds But Ministers Might Ignore

The UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will not recommend coronavirus vaccines to 12-15 year olds. They found the net benefit was too small. But even with this ethical approach the Committee still qualified their position to allow government override.

They did recommend vaccines for 12-15s at high risk, such as immunocompromised, severe asthmatics and with other chronic diseases.

This has been an obvious decision since Covid arrived, purely on the basis of risk-analysis. This would be true independent of the emergence of myocarditis and pericarditis. Kids in this age group are not at sufficient risk of severe disease or death to warrant vaccination. There is no reason to take on any risk, let alone myocarditis, pericarditis, or any other adverse events that have yet to emerge.

If we haven’t been willing to push flu vaccinations for 12-15 year olds, which has a higher rate of severe illness than Covid in that age group (below), we shouldn’t for Covid. Currently in Australia healthy 12-15 year olds can be vaccinated for the flu, but it is so low risk that they are not eligible to get it for free.

Vaccinating them for reasons other than protecting their own health on a risk-adjusted basis is fundamentally unethical (and here). Nonetheless, politicos and media-doctors have suggested it already.

Vaccinating to allow for opening schools, or for any other social or political reason is just wrong. But our Federal Health Minister seems to think it’s relevant. And he is gung-ho regardless of the UK decision.

Mr Hunt said the rollout of Moderna and Pfizer to children aged between 12 and 15 would “offer them the best protection possible from COVID-19 and help get them back into classrooms safely, as soon as possible”.

But we are in a world where almost the entire establishment is fundamentally unethical. That includes every single doctor, health care worker, bureaucrat, MP and media head who knows this is wrong but prefers a paycheque to honour and integrity.

The Disappointing Political CopOut

The second paragraph (yes, second!) in the JCVI press release gives cover to the government to overrule the decision. Indeed, it is almost an invitation. I can only describe this as bureaucratic weakness.

It is not within the JCVI’s remit to consider the wider societal impacts of vaccination, including educational benefits. The government may wish to seek further views on the wider societal and educational impacts from the Chief Medical Officers of the UK 4 nations.

Core JCVI Statement Extract

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation for the JCVI, said:

“Children aged 12 to 15 years old with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 should be offered COVID-19 vaccination. The range of underlying health conditions that apply has recently been expanded.

For otherwise healthy 12 to 15 year old children, their risk of severe COVID-19 disease is small and therefore the potential for benefit from COVID-19 vaccination is also small. The JCVI’s view is that overall, the health benefits from COVID-19 vaccination to healthy children aged 12 to 15 years are marginally greater than the potential harms.

Taking a precautionary approach, this margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal COVID-19 vaccination for this age group at this time. The committee will continue to review safety data as they emerge.”

When deciding on childhood immunisations, the JCVI has consistently maintained that the main focus should be the benefits to children themselves, balanced against any potential harms to them from vaccination.


Influenza in Age Groups, NSW 2014 Example

Age-stratified influenza data is more difficult to get than you might think. This extract from The Health of Children and Young People in NSW – Report of the Chief Health Officer 2014 shows just how much largerthe threat is to children of all ages than that from Covid.

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