Scotland’s teaching union EIS had made claims that stopping 12 to 15-year-olds from being vaccinated from Covid is ‘unethical’.
Larry Flanagan, the general secretary of the EIS union, made the statement after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) stopped short of recommending jabs for young teenagers.
On Friday, the JCVI did not recommend jabs for those under the age of 16 and instead said that Chief Medical Officers should consider the benefits of extending the rollout.
Mr Flanagan said that the situation in schools right now was “the most challenging” it had been during the pandemic and called for pupils to be given access to the vaccine in schools.
“We think it would be unethical to withhold from healthy 12-15 year olds a vaccine that is available to the rest of the population. And particularly with the focus on the rights of the child we think it would be important that secondary pupils have the opportunity to have this vaccination.”
He added that schools were at the centre of surging infection rates since they returned two weeks ago and also said that carrying out vaccinations in schools would make it as easy as possible for those who are entitled to a vaccine and want one, to access it.
The spokesman’s response came just a few hours after an NHS public health expert described the delay on a decision as “frustrating”.
Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, said vaccinating the age group would help prevent transmission of the virus, as well as protect children from long Covid.
Ms Evans discussed the issue on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Saturday.
She said: “We know that the JCVI’s decision is predominantly based on the individual benefits and risks to a child, and not considering some of the wider impacts, and that’s what the chief medical officers will do.
“The thing about this is, it’s frustrating because it just builds in further delay in a decision that we’ve already been pushing for, so it delays things a little bit further.
“Although I’m absolutely certain that there’ll be a lot of activity going on right now and in the days ahead so we can get to a decision as quickly as possible.”
She said that although the risk of long Covid in children was deemed to be small, much was still unknown about the illness.
Scotland’s national clinical director said there was “still a chance” that healthy children aged 12 to 15 could get Covid-19 vaccines.