GSD: Decision To Vaccinate 12-15 Year Olds Is For Parents And Children To Take “In Context Of All The Facts”

The GSD has said that the decision on whether non-vulnerable 12–15-year-olds should have the COVID vaccine is “ultimately a choice for parents and children in the context of all the facts.”

A statement continued:

“The GSD notes the decision by Government to start generally offering the COVID vaccine to 12–15-year-olds.

“What the Government has not said in its press release of yesterday is that the United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization has not recommended that 12–15-year-olds be vaccinated against COVID. There is a recommendation that only vulnerable children in that age group with underlying medical conditions should be vaccinated:

“Additionally, the UN World Health Organisation has similarly so far not recommended that all 12-15 year olds should be vaccinated. It has so far limited itself to recommending that “higher risk” children should be vaccinated and said that “vaccine trials for children are ongoing and WHO will update its recommendations when the evidence or epidemiological situation justifies a change in policy.”

“The scientific recommendations are based on the fact that there has been insufficient research on the effects of the vaccine on children and that generally there would be a marginal health benefit in having it.

“The UK’s JCVI concluded in its Advice of 3 September 2021 that: “Overall, the committee is of the opinion that the benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms...but acknowledges that there is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of the potential harms. 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. As longer-term data on potential adverse reactions accrue, greater certainty may allow for a reconsideration of the benefits and harms. Such data may not be available for several months.”

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “We understand that there may be arguments in favour of rolling out the offer of a vaccine to this age group but it is important to note the scientific recommendations so far by leading professionals in the field in the UK and at WHO level.

“Additionally, COVID is at manageable levels in Gibraltar and there is no indication so far that this is necessary to ensure educational stability this year or to ensure the spread of COVID is minimized. The recently announced roll-out of COVID boosters to the vulnerable and general adult population will probably do more to minimise the effect of COVID into the winter.

“For those reasons it might have been better to wait until the scientific recommendations were made that the vaccine should be administered to all young children. That will only come when more is known about the risks of long-term effects on children. Ultimately this is a decision for parents and children in the context of all the facts.

“The GSD have been supportive of the general roll out of the vaccine to vulnerable people and the adult population generally. That was because there was a clear need and the scientific recommendations were there. For 12–15-year- olds it is important to note that this is not the case and that the decision is based on other factors. Parents will want to balance all of this when deciding what to do in relation to their particular child. The scientific evidence is in favour of vulnerable 12–15-year-olds taking it.”