The pending decision on whether or not UK children aged 12-15 should get the Covid vaccination has left many parents wondering – is giving the jab really in their child’s best interests?
Although authorised for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) still has to decide if it will approve the Pfizer vaccine in order for the rollout to begin.
Despite the MHRA saying the jab is safe and effective for use in the age group, many parents are still unsure if the benefits really do outweigh any potential risks.
‘Trust in the experts’
Dianne Smith, of Oldmeldrum, has already made up her mind when it comes to her 12-year-old daughter Chloe getting the Covid vaccination.
“I think if we want to move forward then we all just have to embrace the vaccine, so yes, I would allow Chloe to have the jab,” said the mum-of-one, who also stressed: “We have to get back to a level of normality.
“The difficulty is that there are so many stories out there. We could all get caught up in the what ifs.
“There’s a lot of scaremongering, but also a lot of fear because this pandemic and vaccine is completely unknown.
“But I do think those who don’t have the vaccine could be held back by further restrictions which might be put in place for those not vaccinated… I don’t want to hold Chloe back.”
In the US, 600,000 children aged between 12 and 15 have already been vaccinated against Covid.
Dianne, a sales and marketing manager for J.G. Ross, said one of those vaccinated children is an overseas friend of second-year pupil Chloe, who attends Oldmeldrum Academy.
She said: “My daughter has a friend who lives in Houston – she’s had both vaccines and has had no repercussions.
“I suppose that’s given me a bit of comfort and helped me decide to allow Chloe to have the vaccine, should it be rolled out.”
Although Dianne understands why other parents may have reservations over giving their child the vaccine, she believes society must try to put their trust in the scientists behind the scenes.
“Unfortunately we probably don’t know enough, but what more can we do as parents?” said Dianne, who has had both doses of the vaccine.
“I feel we need to put our trust in the experts, take their advice and go with it.”
She added: “Chloe is very laid back about the vaccination. If getting the vaccine means life can move forward she’d be delighted.
“When she’s at school she can only take her mask off at lunch – that’s a lot for someone of her age. To her it’s a big thing.”
‘Erring on the side of caution’
Aberdeen mum Claire Morton is hesitant about whether or not she will allow her daughter Melody – who turns 12 in August – to have the vaccine, regardless if it’s approved.
Claire, 34, was initially hopeful at the prospect of Melody, a primary seven pupil at Airyhall School, having the Covid vaccination. However, she now has more questions and would like to have them answered before she makes her final decision.
She said: “When it was announced I initially thought, ‘oh brilliant’. But the more I thought about it, I thought ‘am I getting a bit ahead of myself here because I don’t know an awful lot about the vaccine and children’.
“I want to know how or if this could effect Melody in terms of puberty, hormones or fertility.
“I assume these things will be answered in time, but until they are then I’m a bit more hesitant.
“To be honest, I haven’t gone digging for the facts. But as a parent, this vaccine might be offered to my child, so I don’t think I should have to go digging for information.
“It should be right there readily available to parents via the government or health board.”
Claire highlighted that she is by no means against the vaccination programme as she herself has received one dose.
“I’m definitely not against the vaccine,” stated Claire, who works in accounts.
“For myself, I felt safe enough to get the vaccine. There was nothing that really worried me as I’m fairly fit and healthy, with no underlying health conditions.
“But you definitely worry for your children more than you do for yourself.
“I just think there’s not enough information and too many unanswered questions in my own head. So I’ll definitely be erring on the side caution.
“There has to be more clarity. At 12 years old they are so young and still have so much growing to do.”
The mum-of-two added: “Melody doesn’t want the jab at all because she’s nervous about needles in general.
“I think if the vaccine could be offered like the flu jab is for children – up their noses – then she’d be more willing. She’s more scared of the needle itself.”
‘Didn’t have to give it a second thought’
Mum-of-two Laura Winton said it will be a “no brainer” when it comes to potentially giving her son Riley the Covid vaccine.
The 35-year-old said: “I didn’t really have to give it a second thought, I will be allowing Riley to have the jab.
“Giving him a vaccine which could help prevent him getting or passing on Covid is a no brainer for me really.”
Laura, a support coordinator for adults with learning disabilities, has had both the vaccinations herself. She believes the benefits outweigh any risks.
“I know some people are against the vaccine, but I do believe there’s just a lot of scaremongering,” said Laura.
“I think in five years’ time there won’t be this hesitation in getting the vaccine for Covid. It’ll be the norm.
“Most parents don’t second guess the usual vaccinations children have, I don’t see why this is different. It stops your child getting ill, or helps stop them getting ill.”
Laura added that Riley, a second-year pupil at Banff Academy, is happy to have the vaccine, so long as his mum approves.
She said: “As long Riley understands why he’s getting a vaccine then he’s happy to follow my lead. If I’m not against it, then he won’t be either.
“I was desperate for the vaccine to protect myself and the people I work with. I wanted to feel and be safer.
“When it comes to Riley getting it, I just feel the same. I want him to be and feel safer too.”
Testing vaccinations in children
Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been tested in children from the age of 11 down to six months old.
Moderna has said its jab strongly protects children as young as 12. It said it would submit a request for emergency use authorisation to the US Food and Drug Administration next month.
Novavax has a vaccine in late-stage development and has started a study in 12 to 17-year-olds.
China’s Sinovac has also submitted data to regulators, hoping to prove its vaccine is safe in children as young as three.