A member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said it is “far too early” to be vaccinating children aged 11 and under against coronavirus – but added that there may be a case for some youngsters receiving it.
Jeremy Brown, professor of respiratory medicine at University College London Hospitals, said now is not the right time for children to have the vaccines as the British regulatory bodies have not yet looked at the data from the US.
But he added that if the vaccines are approved for children aged 11 and under by regulators, they could be used for those who have underlying health conditions.
It comes after the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said children aged between five and 11 can receive an “age-appropriate dose” of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already authorised the shots for children but the CDC recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.
Professor Brown told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s far too early to say that (we should follow the US’ lead).
“At present, the vaccine is not allowed to be given to children under 11 years and younger in this country and the MHRA, the regulatory authorities, have not looked at the data from the States to see whether it can be approved for that age group yet.”
He added: “I think there’s a case for using the vaccine on those children that have underlying diseases that make them more vulnerable to Covid, having severe side-effects from the Covid infection. That’s possible.”
In September, the JCVI said children aged 12 to 15 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid should be offered a vaccine, but did not recommend it for healthy children in that age bracket.
Professor Brown pointed out that this is due to the consequences of coronavirus infection for healthy children in that age group being “pretty mild”.
He said: “Very few healthy adolescents (were) having severe problems and the same will be true for, in fact, probably more true, for the elevens and under.
“The clinical indication for the vaccine is low. In fact, the vaccine is being used mainly to protect people in education, to prevent them having to take time off school and all that disruption that has occurred as a consequence of a Covid infection.”
He added: “If we’re thinking about the future and where we need to vaccinate 11s and under for their educational benefit, it really depends on how prevalent the infection (rate) is at that time.”
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, meanwhile told BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live that Pfizer may file for approval of the use of its vaccine in five to 11-year-olds in the UK and Europe in the next few months following the CDC’s announcement.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe