RCPCH response to JCVI update on 16-17-year-olds and COVID-19 vaccination

Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH President, responds to the announcement from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) that 16-17-year-olds are to be offered a first COVID-19 vaccine dose. JCVI advice for children aged 12-15-years-old regarding COVID-19 vaccination remains unchanged from that announced on 19 July 2021.

Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH President and consultant neonatologist said:

We once again thank the JCVI for their hard work on these complex issues. This group of experts is continually looking at the data as they emerge and making their recommendations accordingly and they will continue to do so.

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.

Once again, paediatricians have been left completely in the dark about how and when children and young people will be invited for vaccination. There has been no information to parents and none to young people themselves and that 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. In England, at least, the national booking system for COVID vaccinations is still not taking bookings for anyone under the age of 18, more than two weeks after the ministerial announcement.

While everyone is concentrating on the COVID vaccine, it was good to hear Professor Lim Wei Shen remind everyone of the importance of maintaining other routine immunisations. These national programmes are highly successful at preventing sometimes life-threatening diseases and it is extremely important that these are maintained given the benefits they offer children and young people.