UK Vaccines Advisory Body Not Recommending CCP Virus Vaccines to Healthy Children Under 16

UK Vaccines Advisory Body Not Recommending CCP Virus Vaccines to Healthy Children Under 16
A staff member poses with a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Cardiff, U.K., on Dec. 8, 2020. (Justin Tallis/Pool/Getty Images)
Lily Zhou
The UK government’s advisory body on vaccination has decided not to recommend universal CCP virus vaccination for 12–15-year-olds, contrary to expectations.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on Friday said it’s taking a “precautionary approach” because children have a very low risk of getting seriously ill from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus—two in a million admitted to PICU according to the latest analysis.

“Given this very low risk, considerations on the potential harms and benefits of vaccination are very finely balanced,” the JCVI said in a statement.

The Department of Health and Social Care on Aug. 28 preemptively told England’s health service to get ready to vaccinate all 12–15-year-olds in anticipation of a recommendation in favour of mass vaccination for the age group.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved in June for use on children over 12 years old by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The Moderna vaccine was approved for children over 12 years old last month by the MHRA, but it has not yet been given to children in the UK’s vaccination programmes.

The JCVI has previously recommended giving one dose of the vaccine to all 16–17-year-olds.

Explaining the difference between the two age groups, the JCVI said the social behaviour and infection rate between the two age groups have been rather different, and the older age group can provide informed consent on their own.

The extent of any indirect benefits healthy children can gain from CCP virus vaccination is “highly uncertain” according to current data on the impact of vaccination on transmission in the short and medium term, the JCVI said.

A number of recent studies suggested that while the CCP virus vaccines are still effective against serious disease, it’s efficiency in reducing transmission is largely diminished in a Delta variant-dominated environment.

The JCVI added that due to school closures during previous lockdowns, there’s limited understanding of how schools can impact transmission in wider society, and the lack of understanding “increases this uncertainty about the potential impact of vaccination.”

With regard to the safety of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which is an mRNA vaccine, JCVI said that “there is increasingly robust evidence of an association between vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and myocarditis.”

While the adverse event is still very rare and mostly short, “the clinical picture is atypical and the medium to long-term (months to years) prognosis, including the possibility of persistence of tissue damage resulting from inflammation, is currently uncertain as sufficient follow-up time has not yet occurred,” the statement says.

While healthy 12–15-year-olds can gain little from the CCP virus vaccine, children in this age group with underlying health conditions are still advised to get vaccinated.

The JCVI has previously recommended giving the vaccine to 12–15-year-olds with severe neuro disabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression, and multiple or severe learning disabilities.

The offer is now extended to 12–15-year-olds who have conditions including hematological malignancy, sickle cell disease, type 1 diabetes, and congenital heart disease.

The United States, Israel, Australia, and a number of European countries have started or will start to offer CCP virus vaccination to 12–15-year-olds.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the number of COVID-19 vaccines approved for children over 12 years old. The Epoch Times regrets the error.