Experts warn of confusion over Covid jabs for children

Experts warn of confusion over Covid jabs for children that risks causing ‘uncertainty’ among parents

  • Prof Anthony Harnden acknowledged inconsistent advice will cause ‘hesitation’
  • Deputy chairman of JCVI said it was important parents were ‘properly informed’
  • UK’s four chief medical officers gave expanded rollout the go-ahead on Monday 
  • But the JCVI had previously said benefits were too marginal to justify the move 

Confusion over jabs for children deepened last night as experts admitted the issue was a ‘grey area’ that will cause ‘uncertainty’ among parents.

Professor Anthony Harnden said the decision over whether to offer the vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds ‘isn’t black and white’ – and acknowledged that inconsistent advice on the benefits and risks will cause ‘uncertainty, hesitation and debate’ among families.

The deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said it was important parents were ‘properly informed’ and that their decision should be respected. 

The UK’s four chief medical officers gave the expanded rollout the go-ahead on Monday, but the JCVI had previously said the benefits were too marginal to justify the move.

Confusion over jabs for children deepened last night as experts admitted the issue was a ‘grey area’ that will cause ‘uncertainty’ among parents (pictured: a 14-year-old receives his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Citywest vaccination centre in Dublin on August 14)

Ministers have accepted the medical officers’ advice that there are additional benefits from preventing disruption to education – factors the JCVI had not considered.

Professor Harnden’s comments came as a row over parental consent intensified, with Tory former minister Robert Halfon describing it as a ‘vexed issue’. Parents will be asked to give permission for their child to be vaccinated at school, but pupils could over-rule that if health workers consider them competent.

Professor Harnden said there will be a ‘grade of competency’ based on age when considering whether a child’s decision to take the vaccine against a parent’s wishes can be honoured.

Asked if he would feel comfortable about a 12-year-old child taking up an offer of a vaccine if their parents had not consented, he told the BBC Today Programme: ‘I wouldn’t feel comfortable about that.

‘We have to be really careful that we go by the law, and the law clearly states that the child and parent should try to come to an agreed conclusion.

‘But that if the child wants to go ahead or doesn’t want to go ahead and the parent feels absolutely the opposite, then the clinician involved in administering the vaccine needs to be absolutely sure that the child is competent to make that decision.’

Professor Anthony Harnden (pictured above, in February this year), the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the decision over whether to offer the vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds ‘isn’t black and white’

It came as headteachers said they were being threatened by pressure groups with fines of up to £20 million or even jail if they took part in the vaccination programme.

They have been targeted with letters by anti-vax campaigners and lawyers who object to vaccinating children against Covid. School leaders said the letters claimed they may be held ‘personally liable’ if a pupil suffers ‘harm, injury or loss’ as a result of vaccination.

One letter from a ‘group of concerned parents’ says ‘you have been made aware that death or other serious injuries are possible outcomes for pupils taking the Covid-19 experimental vaccinations and you are accepting responsibility for any injuries/deaths that result.’

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has asked the Department for Education to reassure school staff they cannot be held personally liable for any problems arising from the vaccinations.

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