Children as young as FIVE could be offered Covid vaccines in Spring

Children as young as FIVE could be offered Covid vaccines in Spring

11/20/2021

Children as young as FIVE could be offered Covid vaccines in ‘Spring jab campaign’ according to ‘leaked NHS plan’

  • Secret NHS plans leaked claiming Covid jabs could soon be offered to under-11s
  • Health chiefs fear that Covid could continue to be a threat to Brits until 2024
  • Rolling out Covid jabs to children aged 5-11 could be one way to tackle the virus
  • But the UK’s regulator’s would need to approve the jabs for this age group first
  • England’s chief medical officer said this week that any decision is a long way off 

Secret plans are reportedly being drawn up which will see Covid jabs being rolled out to children as young as five in the coming months.

It is feared that Covid will continue to pose a threat until 2024, meaning health officials are considering new ways to protect Brits.

Speaking earlier this week, England’s chief medical officer Christ Whitty said that vaccinating any children as young as five in the UK is a long way off. 

Professor Whitty pointed out that the UK’s medicines watchdog hasn’t even examined data on the jabs for under-11s.

And a decision on rolling out the vaccine to younger cohorts would depend on the evidence presented to the UK’s top scientists, he said at a press conference.

Secret plans are reportedly being drawn up which will see Covid jabs being rolled out to children as young as five in the coming months (stock image)

But leaked proposals suggest that the NHS are preparing a scheme to offer immunisations to children aged between five and 11 in the Spring, in the event that regulator approval is granted, according to The Sun. 

A senior source told the publication: ‘Top secret plans reveal what is at stake if we are to achieve a meaningful victory over Covid. Asking parents for permission to jab kids as young as five is in the schedule.

‘It is controversial, but will help us reach our goal.’

The source added that the plans are still open to change, but that many scientists support the idea of jabbing young children. 

Commenting on the leaked plans, an NHS spokesperson said: ‘The NHS regularly plans for how it would operationalise opening vaccines to more people so it is ready to extend the jab quickly when and if any decision is recommended by the JCVI.’ 

Before any rollout can be announced for children of this age, the vaccines would need to be approved for use on this age group by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Speaking earlier this week, England’s chief medical officer Christ Whitty (pictured) said that vaccinating any children as young as five in the UK is a long way off

Additionally, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) also needs to approve the rollout. 

At present, vaccines are not being offered to any child younger than the age of 12. 

While US health officials gave the final sign-off to the Pfizer vaccine for use in five to 11-year-olds at the beginning of November, with doses to be administered at a third of the amount given to teenagers and adults. 

And earlier this week, the JCVI recommended that children should wait at least 12 weeks after catching Covid to get their jab.

The body said there is evidence the longer gap reduces the risk of myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation reported in a small number of children after vaccination.

Today’s change to the guidance only applies to healthy children aged 12 to 17, who previously only had to wait a month after infection to get jabbed.

The four-week gap remains the advice for adults over the age of 18 and children extremely vulnerable to Covid.

Twelve to 15-year-olds are still being offered just one dose of Pfizer’s vaccine while officials monitor myocarditis rates in other countries.

But as of this week, 16 and 17-year-olds can now come forward for the second jab after the UK’s regulator decided the benefit of the jabs ‘clearly’ outweighed the risk. 

Speaking about the leaked plans, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘COVID-19 vaccines have not been approved by our independent medicines regulator, the MHRA, for under-12s so are not used in the UK.’ 

And Professor Chris Whitty called for calm this week over suggestions that the Covid jabs could soon be offered to under-11s.

He said: ‘We haven’t yet even got a licence with MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency] so let’s not rush our fences on this.

‘It will depend entirely on the data that are presented to the independent regulator and the independent scientific advisory committee.’

Before any rollout can be announced for children of this age (stock image), the vaccines would need to be approved for use on this age group by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

The MHRA has not yet made a decision on whether to offer younger groups the vaccine, because it has not yet examined data from the US, which is already administering the Covid vaccine to five to 11-year-olds.

The agency examines all clinical trial and safety data from Covid vaccine makers that apply for a license in the UK before making a decision on whether the jab is safe and effective for a certain age group.

The JCVI then advises No10 on whether that cohort should be given the injections as part of the vaccine rollout after weighing up the benefits and risks.

The group advised ministers against jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds because children face such a tiny threat from Covid.

It also warned about the risk from a rare vaccine side effect called myocarditis, which can cause heart damage. 

Critics say children are better off catching the virus and getting protection naturally because the risk of being admitted to ICU is about one in 500,000.

At present, vaccines are not being offered to any child younger than the age of 12. Pictured: File image of a 14-year-old receiving his jab on August 14, 2021

But the JCVI panel — who only looked at a rigid set of criteria — recommended the UK’s chief medical officers were given the final say.

Professor Chris Whitty and colleagues ultimately decided to recommend jabs to 12-15 year olds because modelling showed it would prevent thousands from having to take time off school.

Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the JCVI, said earlier this month that it is ‘far too early’ to say whether it will recommend vaccinating children aged under-12.

But he said there is ‘a case for using a vaccine on those children that have underlying diseases that make them more vulnerable’ to the virus. 

And Professor Jonathan Van-Tam Professor, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said the JCVI ‘will be considering’ whether to follow the US in expanding the rollout to over-fives. But the decision is ‘some way down the tracks’, he added. 

Children aged 12-17 must wait 12 weeks after catching Covid before getting jabbed because it may reduce their risk of rare heart complication, health chiefs rule 

By Connor Boyd Deputy Health Editor for MailOnline

Children should wait at least 12 weeks after catching Covid to get their jab, Britain’s vaccine advisory panel recommended today.   

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said there is evidence the longer gap reduces the risk of myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation reported in a small number of children after vaccination.

Today’s change to the guidance only applies to healthy children aged 12 to 17, who previously only had to wait a month after infection to get jabbed.

The four-week gap remains the advice for adults over the age of 18 and children extremely vulnerable to Covid.

Twelve to 15-year-olds are still being offered just one dose of Pfizer’s vaccine while officials monitor myocarditis rates in other countries.

But as of this week, 16 and 17-year-olds can now come forward for the second jab after the UK’s regulator decided the benefit of the jabs ‘clearly’ outweighed the risk. 

So far, more than half of older teenagers have come forward for a first dose and nearly a third of 12 to 15-year-olds have had the initial jab. 

Fifteen-year-old Quinn Foakes receiving a Covid-19 vaccination at Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in September

Families who have recently had a child vaccinated shortly after infection were told not to worry, and that the new approach is ‘highly precautionary’.

The UK Health Security Agency, which announced the move today, admitted that it would slow down the rollout of the national vaccine programme. 

But it insisted it should not have a major impact on the epidemic because children still have high levels of natural immunity.

The UKHSA estimates half of secondary-aged pupils have already had the virus. 

Two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine wane after six months no matter what age you are

Covid immunity wanes within six months of Pfizer’s second vaccine no matter how old you are, a study has found as the NHS gears up to roll out annual boosters at a cost in the region of £1billion to taxpayers.

People who finished their two-dose course in January had a 51 per cent increased risk of catching the virus by July than those who were jabbed later, according to the research on more than a million Israelis.

Scientists claimed the increased risk of getting infected was visible among people of all ages, although the elderly remain face much higher odds of becoming severely ill. 

The study —  by Israeli researchers using medial data from 1.3million adults in the country — is the first to confirm that younger people also see their immunity against the virus wane within months. There was hope that protection would hold-up better in younger groups because they typically have stronger immune systems.

Israel, which has led the charge on vaccines throughout the pandemic, is already offering boosters to over-16s so long as five months have passed since their second dose. The researchers said it was too early to tell how quickly immunity wanes after a booster jab but it could last longer.

In the UK, top-up doses were approved for all over-50s, health and care home workers and severely ill patients in September and ministers expanded the programme to people in their forties this week.

Vaccine advisers in Britain have admitted that they could be given to younger adults but they are waiting on more conclusive evidence on their safety and efficacy. 

The agency, which replaced Public Health England last month, said natural infection provided good protection against re-infection for three to six months.

A major study in Israel today found that protection from two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine lasts a similar length of time. Immunity from a single dose, however, wanes more quickly. 

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at UKHSA, said: ‘The Covid vaccines are very safe. 

‘Based on a highly precautionary approach, we are advising a longer interval between Covid infection and vaccination for those aged under 18. 

‘This increase is based on the latest reports from the UK and other countries, which may suggest that leaving a longer interval between infection and vaccination will further reduce the already very small risk of myocarditis in younger age groups.

‘Young people and parents should be reassured that myocarditis is extremely rare, at whatever point they take up the vaccine, and this change has been made based on the utmost precaution.’

‘We keep all advice under constant review and will revise it according to the latest data and evidence.’

UK Government data justifying today’s update shows nine in every million under-18s in the UK will get myocarditis after a single dose of Pfizer’s Covid jab, the same as around one per 110,000. 

But for every million doses of the vaccine administered to children, they will prevent around 150 hospitalisations from Covid.

The JCVI held off on recommending second doses for children because data from Israel and the US suggested the myocarditis risk is as high as one in 10,000.  

But real-world UK data in slightly older adults – who also saw above normal rates of myocarditis in other countries – was not higher after the second jab.

This is thought to be because the dosing gap between doses here is 12 weeks, whereas it’s between three and four weeks in the US and Israel. 

The JCVI believes that 12-week gap might also be the sweet spot for getting a jab after natural infection in young people, which prompted today’s tweak to the guidance. 

There is also evidence that rates of myocarditis in Britain are similar in 16 and 17-year-olds and 18 to 29-year-olds, after the second jab.

This is why the JCVI recommend two jabs for healthy older teens earlier this week. But it is still weighing up the evidence on younger children. 

It is unclear why the longer space between vaccination or natural infection reduces the risk of myocarditis yet. 

This gap might give the immune system time to calm down from the reaction to the first dose or infection.  

During Covid infection or immunisation, the body produces cells to fight the virus. If the disease-fighting cells enter the heart, they can inflame the muscle. 

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