Jeremy Hunt asks Nadhim Zahawi about vaccinating children
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Julia Hartley-Brewer caused an internet storm when she attacked Jeremy Hunt for suggesting schoolchildren over the age of 12 should be given the coronavirus vaccine. Comments were divided as Ms Hartley-Brewer said it was “never right” for children to be “used as tools” as she doubled down on long-standing views on the pandemic and protecting children. Reports suggest the NHS is drawing up contingency plans to vaccinate 12 and overs at the start of the next academic year which Mr Hunt appeared to be referencing to during his House of Commons appearance.
Mr Hunt appeared in the House of Commons and asked questions to the Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi on vaccinating school kids.
He said: “For most families that biggest priority is to make sure that schools remain open even if we find that new variants arrive in the UK in the course of the autumn.
“We know that children don’t tend to get bad symptoms but they can spread the virus.
“So, is it time to look at vaccinating over-12s, as they are doing in the United States, is it time to look at whether we can use some of the FDA analysis to speed up that decision making process so that by the time children come back in the autumn schools are protected and we can be confident they’ll be able to stay open?”
Mr Zahawi welcomed the suggestion but stated the decision to approve the vaccine for over-12s was down to the UK’s medical regulators and despite looking at US data they would still need to run their own tests.
The minister added the government needed to make sure the vaccines were safe before administering them but stated the infrastructure was in place to implement the decision.
Ms Hartley-Brewer shared the interaction on her Twitter and wrote: “No, it’s never right for children to be used as tools to protect the elderly from disease.
“It’s unethical for children to be given medical treatment *they don’t need* but which could cause them harm. And it’s shocking to hear former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying this.”
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Ms Hartley-Brewer has been a staunch critic of lockdown measures being implemented on schoolchildren and has been opposed to masks in the classroom since they were introduced.
But the radio host’s comment split the room with many commenting beneath her post their thoughts on the topic.
One wrote: “We vaccinate children against flu to protect older people, and we vaccinate children against rubella to protect pregnant women, both cause only mild disease in children.”
Another critic commented: “It doesn’t cause them harm and it does them great good. When do you expect them to get vaccinated and why the delay?”
But others came to the defence of Ms Hartley-Brewer and referred to the blood clot side effects which were found to affect younger people more.
A supporter added: “On the money Julia, if people can’t see that this is absolute madness, what has happened to the people of Britain?
“A single side effect in any child would be gross negligence on behalf of the Government and how many side effects will be ‘that has nothing to do with the vaccine’.”
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One person shared their thoughts and said: “This is so wrong and completely unnecessary, why would anyone even consider giving a vaccine to their children when covid poses no threat to them. I find this absolutely terrifying.”
Current rules from the JCVI state only children who are at high risk of severe Covid should receive a vaccine which is then at the discretion of a consultant.
The Pfizer vaccine is currently being considered for use in over-12s and is currently available to over-16s.
The JCVI also advised those under-40 should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over its links to blood clots.
Nearly 40 million people in the UK have received their first vaccine with around 28 million receiving both jabs.
During the lockdowns last year, schools were shut over fears they could become breeding grounds for the virus as children could return home and infect family members.
Many students resorted to online learning during the pandemic but saw schools reopen on March 8 in England.
Concerns of the Indian variant in the northeast are also having an effect on schools with hundreds of pupils forced to isolate following an outbreak.
But promising data from Public Health England suggests the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines are still “highly effective” against the variant.
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