THE vaccine advisory body has refused to give the green light to vaccinating healthy children aged 12 to 15-years-old on health grounds alone. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said that children were at so low a risk from the virus that jabs would only offer a marginal benefit.

Chief Medical Officers have now been asked to have the final say and to consider the wider impact on society. It is thought that a decision will be made shortly. The JCVI did advise widening the existing vaccine programme to include an extra 200,000 teenagers with specific underlying conditions.

Doctors have identified that children with chronic heart disease and lung and liver conditions were at much higher risk of Covid than healthy children. The decision not to recommend the vaccine to all healthy children was based on concern over an extremely rare side effect of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – one which causes heart inflammation and can lead to palpitation and chest pain. Data from the USA, where millions of younger teenagers have been vaccinated, suggests that there are 60 cases of the heart condition for every million second doses given to 12- to 17 year-old boys (compared to eight in one million girls). France, Italy, Israel and Ireland are also offering the vaccine to all children in this age group.

But as children are at such low risk from the virus, the JCVI decided that vaccination would offer only ‘marginal gain’ and, therefore, there was ‘insufficient’ evidence to offer mass vaccination to this age group.

The JCVI said it was difficult to factor in long Covid in its advice because of the uncertainty over how common it is in children, although it appears to be less prevalent than in adults.

Vaccine passports maybe introduced at big venues to avoid winter closures. Governments may want to avoid a situation where businesses continually had to open and close their doors at short notice.

Pandemic restrictions could be on the cards to cover a possible winter surge. Some are calling for emergency legislation to be rolled back.

With the Executive meeting on Thursday to discuss the situation in our schools, the Department of Health has reported a further seven Coronavirus-linked deaths and 1,748 new cases. In the past seven days 143,732 people have been tested, up from 107,703 in the previous seven days. Over the past seven days 10,316 cases have been recorded.

Fermanagh and Omagh have the highest rate of transmission at 738 per 100k of the population. The highest percentage of individuals testing positive in the past week were aged between 10 and 14 years of age. Although some would like to get back to normal, things are far from normal.