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Covid-19 UK: Professor Chris Whitty warns almost ALL unjabbed youngsters will get infected

England’s chief medical officer today warned that almost all unvaccinated children will become infected with Covid at some point in the future.

Professor Chris Whitty told MPs around half of youngsters have already caught the virus.

He said the others would get it ‘sooner or later’, insisting that vaccines will cut that risk. 

Being grilled by politicians about his decision to recommend all over-12s are given Covid jabs, Professor Whitty insisted the move was made purely due to the benefits children would get. 

He denied the advice — which overruled guidance from No10’s top vaccine advisory panel which recommended youngsters weren’t jabbed — was political. 

Professor Whitty said: ‘The great majority of children who have not currently had Covid are going to get it at some point.

‘It won’t be necessary in the next two or three months but they will get it sooner or later because this is incredibly infectious. Vaccination will reduce that risk.’ 

It comes after Tory MPs yesterday slammed the Government for ‘undermining’ the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) — the independent body advising the Government on vaccine policy — by pushing through jabs for children.

They argued bringing in the measure now was ‘peverse’ because Britain is ‘through the worst of the pandemic’.

But speaking at an education select committee today, Professor Whitty said vaccines in 12- to 15-year-olds will be vital in stemming the current surge in cases in the age group after their return to schools.

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said the Delta variant’s transmissibility means all school pupils will come into contact with the virus

Lauren McLean, 15, from Newcastle, receives the Pfizer vaccine at the Excelsior Academy today in Newcastle upon Tyne

Lauren McLean, 15, from Newcastle, receives the Pfizer vaccine at the Excelsior Academy today in Newcastle upon Tyne

Covid-19 UK: Professor Chris Whitty warns almost ALL unjabbed youngsters will get infected

Tories slam No10 over ‘perverse’ move to give over-12s Covid vaccines 

Tories today slammed the ‘perverse’ decision to extend the Covid vaccine rollout to children as young as 12.

In the first parliamentary debate about the controversial expansion of the jab drive, Conservative MPs said it did not make sense now that Britain was ‘through the worst of the pandemic’.

They questioned the move to leave the final say on vaccination with children, if they are deemed competent enough, given that experts are torn on the health benefits and ethics.

Britain began inoculating healthy secondary school-aged children with a single dose of Pfizer‘s vaccine for the first time yesterday.

It did so despite originally not getting the blessing from No10’s vaccines advisory panel, which said the health benefit to youngsters was ‘marginal’. 

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) left the decision to Chris Whitty and the chief medical officers in the devolved nations. 

They signed off on the plans on the basis that it could prevent hundreds of thousands of school absences.

Bolton West MP Chris Green said in the Commons: ‘In many ways we can objectively say we are through the worst of the pandemic and yet the more draconian or authoritarian measures are being introduced at this stage. It’s perverse.’  

MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge Miriam Cates, who led the debate, questioned the logic behind the plans, adding: ‘Children are not disease spreaders, they’re not a buffer for our healthcare system and they’re not an economic inconvenience.’ 

And MP Derek Thomas added said the decision to override the JCVI’s original advice ‘undermined confidence in the very vaccine rollout programme’.

Professor Whitty said: ‘There is definitely substantial transmission happening in this age group. 

‘In fact, the age group we’re talking about is the one in which the highest rate of transmission is currently occurring, as far as we can tell.’

Professor Whitty said that the recommendation focused purely on the benefit to children aged between 12 and 15, and had not been made for political reasons or for the benefit of more vulnerable adults.

He added that while the vaccination programme would cause some disruption to schools, it would be outweighed by the likely disruption caused if children caught Covid.

England’s chief medical officer was facing questions from MPs about the inclusion of children in the Government’s Covid vaccination programme.

When asked what proportion of children had already had Covid-19, he replied: ‘It varies by age and it does also vary by setting, but I think if we go for roughly half I think that is a reasonable stab at this.

‘That’s half over the period of the entire epidemic to date, and we’ve got quite a way to run.

‘We’re running into winter so there’s still quite a lot of damage that could be done in terms of disruption.’

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam added that because the Delta variant is so infectious ‘we are not looking at a theoretical risk’ of children aged 12 to 17 becoming infected.

He said: ‘I think it is really quite inevitable that they will be so at some point.’

Prof Van-Tam warned that these pupils could become infected during their GCSEs and A-levels when it is ‘extremely inconvenient to be laid low’ with a cough, fever, and respiratory symptoms. 

Britain began inoculating healthy secondary school-aged children with a single dose of Pfizer‘s vaccine for the first time on Monday.

It did so despite originally not getting the blessing from No10’s vaccines advisory panel, which said the health benefit to youngsters was ‘marginal’. 

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) left the decision to Chris Whitty and the chief medical officers in the devolved nations. They signed off on the plans on the basis that it could prevent hundreds of thousands of school absences.

Bolton West MP Chris Green said in the Commons: ‘In many ways we can objectively say we are through the worst of the pandemic and yet the more draconian or authoritarian measures are being introduced at this stage. It’s perverse.’  

MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge Miriam Cates, who led the debate, questioned the logic behind the plans, adding: ‘Children are not disease spreaders, they’re not a buffer for our healthcare system and they’re not an economic inconvenience.’ 

And MP Derek Thomas added said the decision to override the JCVI’s original advice ‘undermined confidence in the very vaccine rollout programme’.

Revealed: The logistics of vaccinating over-12s in schools

How will it work?

The NHS has already been asked to prepare to offer Covid vaccines to 3million 12 to 15-year-olds.

Doses will mostly be administered through the school vaccination programme, which manages HPV and flu inoculations in schools every year.

Official figures showed almost 90 per cent of children offered the HPV vaccine every year take it. 

Children will likely receive their vaccines in suitable areas such as school halls. They will be delivered by nurses, healthcare support workers and administrative staff.

Parents are set to receive a letter revealing the plans for jabbing kids in the coming days, No10’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi revealed today. They will also be asked to consent to their child receiving the vaccine. 

Will it need parental consent?

Under-16s are not automatically presumed to be legally competent to make decisions about their healthcare and, therefore, whether they should get the Covid jab.

But the courts have previously ruled that under-16s are competent to give consent to an intervention if they have ‘sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand fully what is proposed’.

This is known as the ‘Gillick test’, and has been in place since the 1980s.  

The test is normally carried out by a medical professional or nurse, who assesses the child’s maturity, and their understanding of the advantages, disadvantages and potential long-term impacts of vaccination. They then give a view on whether the child is competent to consent to vaccination.

Can children overrule their parents?

Mr Zahawi said today that children as young as 12 could be able to overrule their parents to get the vaccine.

But he admitted this was likely to be a ‘very rare occurrence’ for the youngest children. He also said parents should not be ‘stigmatised’ if they are hesitant about their children being vaccinated.

Mr Zahawi said children would only be able to choose to have the coronavirus vaccine against their parents’ wishes following a meeting with a clinician.  

The deputy head of the JCVI Professor Anthony Harnden said there was ‘sliding scale’ of competency, meaning it would be easier for a 15-year-old to overrule their parents than a 12-year-old who is ‘less likely to be deemed competent’.

Professor Chris Whitty said, in terms of medical consent: ‘In the majority of cases, children and their parents come to the same decision.’ 

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