Vaccination update

Child vaccination, passports and compulsion

HART member, Dr Ros Jones joined with 60 other doctors and academics to voice grave concerns about the safety and necessity of COVID-19 vaccines for children. The MHRA failed to reply until 2 hours after they had extended Pfizer’s emergency use authorisation down to the 12-15 year age group. Supplementary questions were sent but still with no reply. However, the Telegraph under a heading ‘No green light to start vaccinating children’ suggests the JCVI will not recommend this is rolled out to school children ‘in the immediate future’. JCVI Vice-chairman, Prof Anthony Harden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We do have to be absolutely sure these vaccines are completely safe. The MHRA said they are safe in trials, but of course that’s very different to immunising millions of children”.  This of course begs the question, why would the MHRA base such an important decision, solely on a trial involving 1,134 vaccinated children followed for 2 months, and pay no regard to the real world data coming from both Israel and the US? The FDA are continuing with their rollout to teenagers despite the evidence presented of a five-fold increase (at least) in baseline rates of myocarditis for 16-17 year olds and have an emergency meeting scheduled to look at the benefit vs risk ratio. So this is not good news for hundreds of children already affected by myocarditis in other countries, but at least good news here, for now.

Meanwhile on the same front page, there is more talk of domestic vaccine passports to be rolled out for large events from Monday 19 July, though interestingly this also suggests an acknowledgement of naturally acquired immunity.

For healthcare and care workers however, there seems to be no acknowledgement of the staff who have already caught the virus in the course of their work, or of the ethics of  compulsion of healthy staff to take a vaccine still under only emergency use authorisation and with no long-term safety data. Neither the BMA nor the RCN support the plan and given that staffing shortages are critical, this move may well be counterproductive to patient safety. Polls among health care workers show mixed support especially among younger staff who are at risk of quitting the profession.

For the first time that we are aware of in this country, inducements for vaccination this weekend include a free ticket for a Charlton Athletic football game for the first 1,000 people attending their vaccination centre. Inducement is contrary to good practice for obtaining informed consent.

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