Britain says most children and teens will not be given COVID jabs

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Britain said on Monday it has decided against giving mass COVID-19 vaccinations to all children and they would only be offered in certain situations such as when young people have underlying health conditions.

Compared with adults, children are much less likely to develop severe illness following infection with the coronavirus. But the majority of British parents in a survey this month said they favoured giving their children a vaccine if offered it.

Children with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and profound and multiple learning disabilities will be eligible for the vaccine in new guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

“We will be offering even more vulnerable people the protection that a vaccine brings and we will all be safer as a result,” vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told parliament.

The government said fewer than 30 children with the virus died in the United Kingdom up to March this year.

Young people within three months of their 18th birthday will also be part of the vaccination programme “to allow a lead-in time”, said Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair of the JCVI.

Britain’s decision is at odds with those taken in countries such as the EU and United States where children over the age of 12 are being vaccinated.

In another development Britain announced new exemptions to its rules on self-isolation for those exposed to COVID-19, saying that workers in critical roles could be allowed to continue working instead of quarantining for 10 days.

“We recognise there are some very specific circumstances where there would be a serious risk of harm to public welfare if people in critical roles are unable to go to their workplace – like air traffic controllers or train signallers,” vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told parliament.

“So people in those kinds of roles, who have received two vaccinations, plus two weeks beyond the second vaccine, will not need to self isolate for those critical tasks they will, however, have to continue to self isolate at all other times.”

(Reporting by William James and Andrew MacAskill)

Reuters / SKY