A message that needs repeating
Giving children novel mRNA vaccination for COVID-19 is a medical intervention that remains unjustified. HART is dismayed that the rollout to 12-15 year olds has begun. In early August, we reported on an entirely unconvincing performance by the JCVI chair regarding the committee’s U-turn about vaccination of 16 and 17-year-old children, despite having concluded on 19 July that “the JCVI is of the view that the health benefits of universal vaccination in children and young people below the age of 18 years do not outweigh the potential risks”.
The U-turn was announced without any data or justification, despite this being promised. To date, nothing has been heard from the JCVI. We are still waiting. Since then, of course, in what has been described as a ‘big mistake’, the rollout has been extended to younger children. This is despite the JCVI making it clear that there is no unequivocal medical reason to proceed — it is therefore ethically indefensible to continue with this medical intervention.
There is no long-term safety data for these new vaccines. Mercifully, children seem relatively unaffected by COVID-19 compared to older generations, but many are experiencing worrying side-effects of vaccination, including some which are life-altering or life-threatening. HART has previously looked at myocarditis — just one particular adverse effect — in more detail. There are many more: are teenage girls being made aware that their menstrual cycles could be seriously disrupted following vaccination? Can we be sure that these disruptions are temporary and are of no long-term consequence?
In medical terms, the benefits of any intervention must exceed the risk of harm. If COVID-19 vaccination only provides a few months of protection that turns out to be less durable than natural immunity, the risk of intervention must be spectacularly safe to justify repeating it up to twice a year. This is discussed in more detail in the BMJ, concluding with a repeat of a previous call to “slow down and get the science right—there is no legitimate reason to hurry to grant a license to a coronavirus vaccine”. It is especially worrying to see that all cause mortality in 15-19s has risen in the last three months since this age group first started receiving vaccinations. This data urgently needs much fuller analysis as to cause of death which only the ONS can do.
What will vaccination of these children achieve? It would be helpful to have this explained. What started out as “an adult-only vaccine, for people over 50, focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable” with “no vaccination of people under 18”, somehow got lost in the ethical quagmire of deploying children as human shields to protect their elders. It then took heavyweights such as Professor Sir Andrew Pollard of the Oxford Vaccine Group to point out (without addressing the ethical issues) that — as the vaccines do not stop transmission — this was futile, thus totally undermining what he called “one of the strongest arguments” for vaccinating children.
In the end, the convoluted reasons trotted out by the Chief Medical Officers for proceeding with vaccinations for younger children were based on the idea that they prevent school disruption by reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools. This is a falsehood — one need only look at highly vaccinated countries to show that transmission has not been significantly lowered in vaccinated populations. In addition, the underlying modelling used to justify this line of argument was extremely weak, hugely imprecise and ultimately unconvincing. And to top it all, the first days of the vaccine rollout have resulted in huge disruption to schooling, thus totally undermining the CMOs’ main justification for pushing ahead with this vaccination programme. Education Committee Chair MP Robert Halfon even had to intervene when one school in Middlesex attempted to offer a post-vaccination working from home day.
Last week, in a debate on the matter, Miriam Cates MP stated in parliament that the “decision is a marked departure from the principle of vaccinating people for their own medical benefit, because those wider issues—educational disruption and concerns around mental health—are the consequences of policy decisions and are not scientific inevitabilities”.
HART agrees, and therefore recommends halting the programme in children until more information is available. It is unclear what advantages will accrue from it. Many medical professionals are speaking out — the Safer to Wait campaign has provided coherent arguments in favour of waiting until it is absolutely clear that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Caution is the better part of valour. The warning signs are there. Tell your MP and invite them to protect our children not only from unnecessary potential harm, but harm perpetrated by institutions and individuals that proclaim to be prioritising their safety and their health.