CHILDREN aged 12 to 15 should be offered one dose of Covid vaccine, according to an evaluation by the UK’s four chief medical officers.
It will be up to the Scottish Government whether to accept the advice of Scotland’s CMO, Dr Gregor Smith.
The CMOs wrote: “COVID-19 is a disease which can be very effectively transmitted by mass spreading events, especially with Delta variant.
“Having a significant proportion of pupils vaccinated is likely to reduce the probability of such events which are likely to cause local outbreaks in, or associated with, schools.
“They will also reduce the chance an individual child gets COVID-19. This means vaccination is likely to reduce (but not eliminate) education disruption.”
The UK’s JCVI expert group previously said it could not recommend the vaccinations on health grounds alone for the vast majority of teenagers due to the “marginal” benefit and a small risk of a rare side effect – myocarditis – which causes inflammation of the heart or heart tissue in around 12 to 34 cases per million second doses.
The CMOs have recommended a single dose only of the Pfizer vaccine at this stage in order to minimise the risk of myocarditis, which is more common after a second vaccination – particularly among adolescent boys.
A decision on second doses for teenagers has been deferred until Spring, with the CMOs asking the JCVI to review the policy at that stage once more data is available internationally.
Last week there were nearly 10,000 Covid infections confirmed in children aged 0 to 14 in Scotland, and just over 3000 among adolescents aged 15 to 19.
Per 100,000, the highest virus rates are occurring in the 15 to 19 age group, followed by the 0-14 age group.
As of September 9, there were more than 35,000 pupils absent from school in Scotland for Covid-related reasons, which can include infection or pupils self-isolating pending a test result after being identified as a close contact of a positive case.
This equated to roughly 5% of all absences from school.
The vaccinations are already available to all 16 to 17-year-olds in the UK, with 63.9% of teenagers in this age group already having had a first dose.
Around 3,500 children in Scotland aged 12 to 15 who are vulnerable due to health conditions such as severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, or immunosuppression are also eligible for vaccination, with 62.2% of youngsters in this category having had a first jag.