UK Advises Certain Young People Receive COVID-19 Vaccination
Following a request from the UK's Department of Health and Social Care for advice on a possible extension of the COVID-19 vaccination program, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirmed it had reviewed the available evidence around vaccinating young people under the age of 18.
From July 19, 2021, the JCVI advises that children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine.
This includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression, and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.
Under existing JCVI advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should have already been offered COVID-19 vaccination.
However, the JCVI is not currently advising routine vaccination of children outside these groups, based on the current evidence.
Evidence shows that COVID-19 rarely causes severe disease in children without underlying health conditions. Therefore, JCVI’s current view is that the minimal health benefits of offering universal COVID-19 vaccination to children do not outweigh the potential risks.
COVID-19 symptoms, when seen, are typically mild. Fewer than 30 children have died because of COVID-19 in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic as of March 2021, stated the Public Health England press release.
The JCVI is an independent expert advisory committee that advises United Kingdom health departments on immunization policy.