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Drakeford says he will back vaccines for five year olds if JCVI support the move

12 Dec 2021 2 minute read
The First Minister is vaccinated. Image by the Welsh Government

The First Minister has said that he would give his backing to vaccines for five-year-olds and upwards if that was the advice of the JCVI.

The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) advises UK health departments on immunisation, and has been looking at whether vaccines for younger age groups might be warranted in light of the emergence of the more transmissible Omicron variant.

NHS England documents leaked to the press today suggested that medics have been told to start preparing for mass vaccination of 5-11 year olds.

They come after SAGE experts have warned that Britain’s recent surge in Covid cases is now being driven by children.

Mark Drakeford told Broadcasting House on Radio 4 that he would follow whatever was the JCVI’s advice on the matter.

“We will follow the advice of the JCVI in Wales, and there’s a genuinely ethical debate here,” he said.

“Every vaccination comes with a risk. Is it ethical to vaccinate somebody else, not because it will do good to them, but because it will protect other people? And particularly, is that ethical when it comes to children?

“That’s the debate the JCVI have been having, they are the experts, and if they say to us that the balance has shifted in favour of vaccinating children, then with their parents’ consent – of course – that is what we will do.”

He was speaking after Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, called for jabs for five to 11-year-olds “as soon as possible”.

“We’ve, had a large number of cases over the last few months, and unfortunately high numbers of hospitalisations and 100 to 150 deaths a day,” John Edmunds said.

“I’m not saying all of that has been driven by children, but much of it unfortunately has.

“So from taking a population perspective, I think it’s it’s pretty clear we do need to vaccinate our children as well as everybody else.”

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