Vaccinating pupils should be a priority say school leaders as Indian variant outbreaks force classes to be sent home
5th June 2021

VACCINATING pupils should be a priority, school leaders have said, as the Indian Covid variant outbreak forces classes to be sent home.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority approved the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds – but there has been an outbreak of the 'Delta' variant in English schools.

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It's up to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and then ministers as to when the jab will be rolled out to kids.

Teaching unions and school leaders said that starting the programme soon would mean that most students would get their two doses by the time the school term starts in September.

Hamid Patel, chief executive of the Star Academies trust in Blackburn, told the Guardian: “This is very welcome news. We now need to ensure that all teenagers have received at least the first jab before the summer holidays.

“Schools are best placed to accommodate vaccinations and the infrastructure is already in place for delivering inoculations.

"We will get much higher take-up if we ask youngsters to receive the jab in term time rather than when they are enjoying their holidays. This will also enable all of us to have a safer, freer and more normal summer.”

General secretary of the NASUWT teaching union Patrick Roach said: "Offering young people access to vaccination would not only be of benefit to their safety and help to minimise further disruption to their education, it would also help protect the wider adult population who are at greater risk from Covid.

“With case numbers in schools rising, the JCVI must now study the evidence and come forward with a swift decision on expanding the vaccination programme to younger people."

'PRECARIOUS' POSITION

It comes as unions warn that schools are in a "precarious" situation over Covid outbreaks.

General secretary of the school leaders' union NAHT Paul Whiteman said the Government should ensure there is no "further widespread disruption to education".

Mr Whiteman told the MailOnline: "We have been hearing from our members that more and more schools are having to close multiple classes or 'bubbles', particularly in areas with higher case numbers.

'This latest official data release appears to support those concerns."

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Any increase of Covid cases is obviously worrying, and there is particular concern about the infectivity of the Delta variant.

"The situation clearly continues to be precarious, and will need to be monitored very carefully after the half-term holiday. It is essential that data is more readily available in the future."

Teens aged 12 to 15 will be able to sign up to get a Pfizer vaccine when their slot comes to get jabbed.

Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive said: “We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.

“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved COVID-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12- to 15-year age group.

“No extension to an authorisation would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.

“It will now be for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise on whether this age group will be vaccinated as part of the deployment programme."


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