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Editorial

Will – and should – children receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

There’s no consensus on vaccinating children but school nurses will be key

Theres no consensus on vaccinating children but school nurses will be key

UK regulators have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15 year olds, but this does not mean that schoolchildren will or should be offered the vaccine.

Making this decision is complicated.

At time of publication, no decision to vaccinate children had been made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination

There’s no consensus on vaccinating children but school nurses will be key

UK regulators have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15 year olds, but this does not mean that schoolchildren will or should be offered it
Picture: iStock

UK regulators have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15 year olds, but this does not mean that schoolchildren will or should be offered the vaccine.

Making this decision is complicated.

At time of publication, no decision to vaccinate children had been made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, but there are those, including some teachers’ leaders, who have called for all children over 12 to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

While there is evidence to suggest that the new Delta (previously known as Indian) variant is spreading in schools, the more serious effects of COVID-19 have not generally been seen in children and young people when compared with older people and at-risk groups in the UK.

The questions, as we discuss in our analysis, are plentiful but the answers not so easily arrived at. Herd immunity, vaccine hesitancy, parental consent, cost versus benefits, and a commitment to providing developing countries with more vaccines are all issues to be considered.

The decision to allow secondary schoolchildren to dispense with masks in May has also been controversial.

School nurses have adapted their practice successfully

There has been much disruption in schools during the pandemic, and school nurses have been at the forefront of the response and have kept routine work going.

Many school nurses have had to adapt their practice with some amazing results, such as keeping the school vaccination programme going with drive-in clinics.

The vaccine roll out for adults has been a mammoth task and we have seen how well the NHS and the public have responded.

If a decision is made and vaccination of children takes place, when will also be crucial. The end of term is just weeks away and it may be September before the roll out can begin.

If schools are chosen as venues for the vaccination of children and young people, school nurses will not just be key but in the driving seat.


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