Public Health lead reassures parents of Covid vaccine safety

Published Tuesday 5 October 2021 at 12:22

As parents/carers of 12-15 year olds are currently being asked for Covid vaccine consent, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health is keen to reassure parents of the vaccine’s safety for this age group.

Prof Dominic Harrison’s assurance is based on the assessment in June 2021 by the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which published findings of its study looking into how safe the Covid vaccines are for 12-15 year olds, and the advice of all the Chief Medical Officers for the UK nations.

After reviewing clinical trial data, they approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said:

We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.

We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12 to 15 year age group.

Although, in September 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination & Immunisation (JCVI) declared its view that there may be little benefit to vaccinating healthy 12 to 15 year olds against Covid for the young people themselves, its committee agreed that “the benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms”.

The Chief Medical Officers for all UK nations later recommended, following a further review, that the Covid vaccine should be offered to this age group. They declared that the vaccination benefits should be judged more broadly for 12 to 15 year olds – such as having fewer interruptions to their education – and consider the benefits to their families and wider communities, including by reducing the risk of household transmission.

Prof Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for BwD, said:

I want to reassure parents and carers that the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine to 12 to 15 year olds has been judged as safe and effective – not just in the UK but in most other European countries and North America, who are now well ahead of us in offering Covid vaccine protection to over 12s.

With 23% of Blackburn with Darwen residents under the age of 16 years – the 8th youngest population in all areas of England – our residents risk having collectively less immunity protection from the Covid vaccine as we head into autumn and winter if we do not get our 12 to 15 year olds protected through vaccination.

Secondary schools across Blackburn with Darwen are assisting the NHS to roll out Covid vaccines to 12 to 15 year olds from this month.

All the borough’s secondary schools, academies, special schools and private schools will take part in the vaccination programme.

Dominic Harrison added:

I recognise that some parents and carers may worry about giving consent for their children to be vaccinated. Whilst I would urge them to give that consent, I need to stress that this vaccination is not mandatory, and no child will be vaccinated in schools without consent.

You can find out more about the Covid vaccination programme in schools on the Council website:

Parents and carers can also refer to the NHS parents’ guide to Covid vaccination.


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