UK Paediatrician Slams 'Shambolic' COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout for Teenagers
© AP Photo / Frank AugsteinA nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020
© AP Photo / Frank Augstein
Earlier this week, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged the country's National Health Service (NHS) to pave the way to begin giving the first doses of coronavirus vaccines to youngsters "as soon as possible".
Camilla Kingdon, president of the UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), has voiced concern over the COVID-19 vaccination rollout for children in her country, arguing that doctors know nothing about plans for the programme.
"The roll out of the vaccine programme for adults has been incredibly impressive but, for children and young people, it has been frankly shambolic. This is the second announcement around vaccinations for children or young people in the last three weeks, but we still haven't seen detailed plans for roll out of the first", Kingdon said in a statement on Friday.
She claimed that British paediatricians "have been left completely in the dark about how and when children and young people will be invited for vaccination", stressing that the absence of relevant information "creates confusion and, for some families, real worry".
"Our members are constantly being asked questions by young people or their parents for which they don't have the answers because the systems aren't in place and the detailed advice has not been provided", Kingdon added.
She also said that in England, the national appointment system for coronavirus vaccinations "is still not taking bookings for anyone under the age of 18, more than two weeks after the ministerial announcement".
The RCPCH president spoke after the government's Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) announced plans to administer the first COVID vaccine doses to children aged 12 and over in the coming weeks.
The announcement followed the JCVI saying last month that the benefits of kids-related vaccination was "minimal" and did not outweigh the risks.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, JCVI's COVID-19 chair, explained that "after carefully considering the latest data", the JCVI advices that "healthy 16- to 17-year-olds are offered a first dose of [the] Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine". According to Wei, "advice on when to offer the second vaccine dose will come later".
"While COVID-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and for this particular age group, we expect one dose of the vaccine to provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation", the professor added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly touted the vaccination programme's progress in the UK and its role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, almost 89% of adults in Britain have already received their first dose and just over 73% have had their second, according to government statistics.