Published: 15:47, 04 September 2021
| Updated: 15:55, 04 September 2021
A majority of KentOnline readers agree that children should receive a Covid jab, according to a poll.
It comes as the government prepares to make a decision on whether to offer the vaccine to all healthy 12 to 15-year-olds, despite advisers deciding against recommending a mass rollout.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided against backing the move on health grounds alone because Covid-19 presents such a low risk to younger teenagers.
But Professor Chris Whitty and the three other chief medical officers in the UK are reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as minimising school absences, and are expected to present their findings within days.
Around six million children are believed to have avoided contracting coronavirus so far.
The government is awaiting expert advice before making a final decision but ministers have indicated they are keen on authorising a wider rollout.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s chairman of Covid-19 immunisation, said the group’s view was that the benefits of vaccinating the age group “are marginally greater than the potential harms” but that the benefits were “too small” to support a universal rollout at this stage.
The Department of Health and Social Care has already begun making preparations to ensure the NHS would be ready to offer coronavirus jabs to all 12 to 15-year-olds in England from early September.
On Thursday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he felt parents would find it “deeply reassuring” to have a choice of whether their children should have a jab or not, adding that many people hoped they would be in a position “of being able to roll out vaccinations for those who are under the age of 16”.
The government has said if all 12 to 15-year-olds were to be offered a vaccine, parental or carer consent will be sought, as in other school immunisation programmes.
A poll of KentOnline readers found the majority of people voting were in favour of children having the jab (57%). Some 28% were against it and 15% were unsure.
For many the sticking point was that it was optional, and that parents would be in control of making the decision.
Ian Heathfield said: "The government and media have brainwashed everyone, it should have up to the people if they have it or not."
Responding to a debate on KentOnline's Facebook page, Shelley Barron added: "Should they be offered it? Yes. Should they have it? Up to them."
Michelle Clay believed it was down to the child themselves. She said: "Twelve to 15-year-olds can look into this and have their own opinions and views on it. I would sit down with them and have a discussion. Let them work out what they want to do and respect their decision whatever they decide.
"My daughter is 24 and not vaccinated and has had Covid. I would never try and persuade her to get vaccinated. I have had both vaccines and this was my decision and felt it was right for me ."
But other readers explained their children had learning difficulties so they felt it would be wrong to leave the decision to them.
And some were undecided. Jo Morgan wrote: "I'm on the fence. Childhood vaccinations actually prevent kids from catching the diseases they are immunised against, this one doesn't. I had both jabs and still caught Covid, so I'll be looking into it more."
However, a number of parents were adamant their children would not be getting the jab.
Beth Randell said: "My [children] won't be. I am 40 and double-jabbed, I accepted that risk with a very new vaccine.
"But sorry I'm being selfish with my kids."