Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Vaccinating younger children: Expert says it’s a balancing act

Prof Hugh Pennington said that vaccinating younger children is a question of balancing the benefits to the community and the individual.
Prof Hugh Pennington said that vaccinating younger children is a question of balancing the benefits to the community and the individual.

With isolations disrupting schools, decisions on vaccinating younger children are becoming more timely and more complicated.

Highland officials are “very concerned about the exponential rise in cases” in the region, which recently saw its largest spike since the pandemic began.

There are no plans to return to remote learning. But education leaders have issued assurances that the infrastructure for remote learning is still in place, should a change be necessary.

While some young people have become seriously ill or died after testing positive for Covid-19, those percentages are much lower than among the older population.

Aberdeen microbiologist Prof Hugh Pennington said that vaccinating younger people could curb the spread.

But deciding whether to offer the vaccine to younger age groups isn’t a straightforward issue.

‘The virus is very busy’

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has not fully extended vaccinations to children in the 12-15 age range. Children over 12 are only eligible if they have certain health conditions or live with an immunocompromised person.

But Prof Pennington added that current surges have made expanding the vaccination programme a hot topic.

“The virus is very busy, particularly on younger people. None of the primaries will have had a vaccine. And only the top age group classes will have had the opportunity to have the vaccine anyway.

Prof Hugh Pennington said that vaccinating younger children is a question of balancing the benefits to the community and the individual. Picture by Kami Thomson / DCT Media

“So really, if we’re trying to dampen down the virus in the community, then the less virus that’s going around in schools the better.”

Vaccinating younger children and their risks with Covid

According to statistics from Public Health Scotland, there continue to be very few Covid-related deaths among people under 20. But there are still cases of death, serious illness or hospitalisation among younger age groups.

Prof Pennington said that this makes vaccinating young people a tricky question.

“The argument really is: If you’re vaccinating children, you’re not doing it to protect their individual health. You’re doing it so that they don’t become spreaders of the virus. And that’s the same case with the older kids and teenagers and people in their 20s.”

He said that, when health officials ask pupils and university students to get a flu shot every year, the motivation is less about keeping kids from getting sick than in helping stop the overall spread.

If we’re trying to dampen down the virus in the community, then the less virus that’s going around in schools the better.”

-Prof Hugh Pennington

“Kids pick up the flu as it goes around school like nobody’s business. And they take it home and infect their grandparents, who are much more likely to have a very serious illness or even be killed by it.”

With the “much nastier” Covid-19 virus, the risks to the community are even greater, he said.

“It’s a tricky one for public health people. It’s a very difficult balancing act. Because the harm that’s done by closing down classes is very great.

“We’ve lost a lot of education since the pandemic started and the kids will suffer from that, whatever happens. There’s no way you can go back to square one on their education.”

Read more from the Schools and Family team

The child flu vaccine: Everything you need to know

IN DEPTH: How the Covid cases break down in Highland schools – and what counts as an outbreak

Bubbles, pings and masks: New back to school safety guidance explained

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]