By Lucy Ashton
Young people with certain conditions are to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, in line with the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), before the majority of schools return on the 16th of August.
The vaccine will be offered to around 4,000 children and young people affected by severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s syndrome, underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, and those who have a diagnosis of Learning/Intellectual disability.
In addition, the JCVI recommended vaccinating young people aged 16 to 17 years of age who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. While the vast majority of this group were previously invited in an earlier part of the vaccination programme we will be inviting those that are now 16 who were not vaccinated as part of that earlier offer.
Also to be invited are children and young people aged 12-17 who are household contacts of adults or children who are immunosuppressed. This is to provide indirect protection for that member of their household. A household contact is defined as someone living in the same house, or anyone the adult or child comes in to contact with face-to-face on most days of the week – such as a carer.
NHS Scotland is aiming to vaccinate these children and young people during August 2021 alongside those younger household contacts of people with immunosuppression. Those children and young people with specific conditions and their parents or carers will be contacted directly by their local Health Boards via letter, phone call or by their regular healthcare professional. The household contacts of the wider group of people with immunosuppression will be contacted by a letter from the National Vaccination Programme.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, left, said: “In line with the latest JCVI advice we will now be offering COVID-19 vaccinations to children and young people aged between 12 and 17 from key groups.
“The programme has always offered vaccine to groups where the benefits far outweigh the risks. The research and evidence shows that is the case for young people in these groups and they should now be called forward for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“These children and young people will be able to get the vaccine in the most appropriate setting for their situation. This may be in their own home or a care setting, or at a clinic, depending on their care or health needs.”
“I would urge any parent or carer who has a child or young person eligible for a vaccine to visit NHS Inform where they can find the most up-to-date information; and read the leaflet that they will receive with their letter or from their Health Board. Parents, carers or young people can also speak to their local health professional to discuss this further if they need to.”
He added that:
- In line with the latest JCVI advice, we will now be offering COVID-19 vaccinations to children and young people who are from key groups; and are between 12 to 17 years. Vaccinations will be offered to:
- 12 to 15-year-olds with severe neuro-disabilities
- 12 to 15-year-olds with Down’s syndrome
- 12 to 15-year-olds with underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression
- 12 to 15-year-olds with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD)
- 12 to 15-year-olds with severe learning disabilities
- 12 to 17-year-olds who have a diagnosed learning/intellectual disability (mild or moderate)
- 16-year-olds who have any of these above conditions or underlying conditions that place them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 (that were not 16 at the time of the previous invite for all 16 and 17-year-olds in March 2021)
- Young people aged 12 years and above who live in the same household of persons (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed (We previously invited over 16s who are household contacts of those on the shielding list)
The JCVI is not currently advising routine vaccination of children outside of these groups, based on the current evidence and is of the view, at this time, that the health benefits of universal vaccination in children and young people below the age of 18 years do not outweigh the potential risks
Children affected, or their parents/carers, will be contacted directly by their local Health Boards or by their regular healthcare professional starting from the week of 2 August onwards. People who are included in this round of invitations do not need to do anything or call us, they will be contacted directly and should not attend drop-in centres.
As Scotland does not have a national Learning Disability Register we are taking a straightforward approach of inviting everyone with a diagnosed learning/intellectual disability for vaccination. This does not include people with learning difficulties such as dyslexia or ADHD.
The latest JCVI advice published on 19 July 2021 can be accessed via the following link:
For more info, see: https://www.nhsinform.scot/covidvaccinatingyoungpeople