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Readers React: Here’s what you think about vaccinating our under-fives

A close up view of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in a vial
Readers offered up a resounding 'no' when asked if under-fives should be offered the Covid-19 vaccine.

A recent poll shows voters are against vaccinating children under five.

The US is close to offering vaccines to under-fives, and this week we asked readers whether Scotland should do the same.

Almost 2,000 voters (97% of respondents) said no.

Just 22 said yes and another 29 said we should consider vaccinating under-fives only if they are medically at-risk.

Who can get a vaccine?

According to the latest rules in Scotland, the youngest someone can receive a Covid-19 vaccine is five years-old. But children in the five-11 category should only be offered a vaccine if they are immuno-compromised, or a household contact of someone who is.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government recently said that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation doesn’t have any guidance for universal vaccination of five-11 year-olds. Extending the vaccine to even younger children is not yet on the table.

There is little sign that the government is going to consider extending the vaccine programme to younger children. Recent statistics show case rates have remained high among the 0-14 age group.

In the past week, there were more than 6,500 cases reported among children under 14. But because the government does not break down further by age, it isn’t clear how many of those cases are among age groups not yet eligible for vaccination.

How does Scotland compare to countries around the world?

This is roughly in line with many countries around the world. The World Health Organisation advises that vaccinating people 18 and older should be the priority.

In Australia, children from five-11 can get vaccinated. There is no advice for younger age groups. The same is true in Ireland.

In France, everyone over the age of five is eligible for vaccination, with boosters offered to anyone over 12.

What’s the context?

Increasing the vaccination rate in schools and relaxing restrictions has been one of the major reasons for the push in vaccinations in many US states where young children are still in masks during class.

This week, Pfizer-BioNTech announced it was seeking emergency-use approval to offer the vaccine to under-fives in the US. Only days later, four US states announced expiration dates for their in-school mask mandates.

That’s in line with the most recent Scottish Government announcement. After Feb 28, secondary students in Scotland will no longer need to wear a mask in class, but students will still have to wear them in communal areas.

Read more from the Schools & Family team

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Masks off: Local parents and officials welcome relaxed mask rules

£10 million in 10 years: Camphill School Aberdeen sets ambitious fundraising target

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