Disruption to education and Covid-linked anxieties are two of the reasons that HSC say contributed to the decision to offer coronavirus vaccinations to 12-15 year olds.
Questions posed by Deputy Gavin St Pier have been answered by Health and Social Care regarding the offer to vaccinate young people.
HSC issued a media release in September explaining its rationale for offering vaccinations to this age group.
“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) was not opposed to 12 to 15 year olds being offered the vaccine," HSC stressed. "In fact, it concluded there was an overall advantage for vaccination in this cohort.”
It was suggested by Deputy St Pier that this statement “does not appear consistent” with the JCVI's official release, on 3 September, which concluded: “The margin of benefit, based primarily on a health perspective, is considered too small to support advice on a universal programme of vaccination of otherwise healthy 12 to 15-year-old children at this time.”
Deputy St Pier questioned the other benefits considered by the Committee beyond the primary health perspective.
Pictured: Deputy St Pier submitted questions to Health regarding their decision to vaccinate 12 to 15 year olds.
HSC responded that the two statements do not show any inconsistencies, and while the JCVI did not recommend vaccination of this cohort based only on health grounds, overall, there would be an advantage in vaccinations and the benefits outweighed the risk.
The JCVI stated that “it is not within its remit to incorporate in-depth considerations on wider societal impacts, including educational benefits.”
The Committee considered the impact of absence from school on students’ education as well as the impact of absence on welfare and mental health.
It cited the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which found that vaccination could benefit 12 to 15 year olds by reducing interruption to school attendance, to give protection to their friends and families and to reduce some of the anxiety linked to Covid.
The Committee also stated that the vaccine is offered to 12 to 15 year olds in all other British jurisdictions, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the use of Pfizer and Moderna for children and young people over the age of 12.
In addition, the Committee reiterated that the vaccine is voluntary and steps are being taken to ensure children and their families make the decision which best reflects their circumstances.
Deputy St Pier highlighted that the matter of vaccinating this cohort was deliberated by a ‘special interest group’ rather than the pre-existing Immunisation and Vaccination Committee.
The special interest group involved members that would have otherwise represented the Immunisation and Vaccination Committee, however the group was extended to the Medical Director, Paediatricians, the incoming Director of Education and a representative from the Quality and Safety Team.
HSC stated that this ensured the matter was discussed and considered within the broader context and that the decision was reinforced by local evidence rather than UK advice alone.