'No immediate need' to vaccinate children, JCVI member tells LBC

6 June 2021, 11:10 | Updated: 6 June 2021, 11:24

By Joe Cook

There is no "immediate urgent need to vaccinate children" as they are not spreading the disease in a significant way, a member of the government's key advisory group on vaccines has told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday.

On Friday, the UK's medicines regulator the MHRA approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in 12 to 15-year-olds, paving the way for children to be vaccinated.

Some countries, such as Germany and France, have already announced plans to begin vaccinating children.

But, the UK government has said they will only extend vaccination to under-18s if recommended to do so by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Giving an insight into the thinking of the committee, JCVI member Professor Simon Kroll told Swarbrick on Sunday that current evidence "does not support" school children being large spreaders of the disease.

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Speaking in a personal capacity, he told Tom: "The spread in the community is much same in those settings where there are lots of children and those where there aren't.

"So it is spreading among adults rather than the school being a particular focus. At least that is what the data is telling us at the moment, but we will learn more."

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Since children are highly unlikely to become seriously ill with Covid-19, vaccination efforts should remain focused on older age groups, Professor Kroll continued.

"I think that there is always a calculation to be made about using resources to vaccinate one part of the population which would mean we would not have those resources to vaccinate another part. And I think that our strategy of vaccinating the population that is at greatest risk is still the right strategy.

"That is not to say that the time won't come - and it might come very soon - when the next group that it would be most sensible to vaccinate would be the children."

But a change to focus vaccination on children would be one for the government rather than scientists, the infectious disease expert said.

"If the focus of strategy were to move more towards prevention of transmission... in order to get society moving again the focus may change. This will be a policy decision but it won't be a health decision primarily."