JCVI issues updated advice on COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 12 to 15
The JCVI has reviewed the evidence on vaccinating children aged 12 to 15 who do not have underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk from severe COVID-19.
The assessment by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is that the health benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms. However, the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12 to 15 year olds at this time.
It is not within the JCVI’s remit to consider the wider societal impacts of vaccination, including educational benefits. The government may wish to seek further views on the wider societal and educational impacts from the Chief Medical Officers of the UK 4 nations.
For the vast majority of children, SARS-CoV-2 infection is asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and will resolve without treatment. Of the very few children aged 12 to 15 years who require hospitalisation, the majority have underlying health conditions. The committee has recommended the expansion of the list of conditions to which the offer applies for at-risk 12 to 15 year olds.
There is evidence of an association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and myocarditis. This is an extremely rare adverse event. The medium- to long-term effects are unknown and long-term follow-up is being conducted.
Given the very low risk of serious COVID-19 disease in otherwise healthy 12 to 15 year olds, considerations on the potential harms and benefits of vaccination are very finely balanced and a precautionary approach was agreed.