Mark Dolan: Given the mostly non-existent impact of Covid on children, how can any vaccine risk be justified?

How can you say you are protecting a group statistically not seriously threatened by a disease? That’s like protecting me against pregnancy.

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The NHS has drawn up plans to start vaccinating 12-year-olds from the first week schools go back, according to an article in today’s Telegraph.

Most disturbingly health officials have reportedly said children would not need parental consent under the schools’ jabs programme. This is confusing, because last month, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – the JCVI - said: “The minimal health benefits of offering universal Covid-19 vaccination to children do not outweigh the potential risks.” But then over two weeks later, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer said it was “more likely, rather than less likely” that the rollout among 12 to 15-year-olds would be expanded.

Eh? Do keep up. JCVI members have appeared increasingly divided over the issue. Earlier this week, Professor Adam Finn said the group was taking a “very cautious” approach to the advice on vaccinating younger children.”

So do they believe in this or not? Meanwhile Professor Wei Shen Lim, the chairman of the group’s Covid-19 subcommittee said earlier this month that the committee “will obviously want to try to protect” 12 to 15-year-olds with vaccines.

Wait a minute. Protect twelve year old? Surely that’s strange language. How can you say you are protecting a group statistically not seriously threatened by a disease? That’s like protecting me against pregnancy. Or getting me to wear a seatbelt on my motorbike.

Now vaccines are currently being offered to those aged 16 and 17. People in this age group are only being offered one dose, with the JCVI yet to make a decision on whether, or when, a second jab should be given. Eh? What’s the going on? Is it just me, or are they making this up as they go along? This is already happening in Ireland.

And here’s the thing - haven’t children suffered enough? School closures, exam chaos, closed playgrounds, the bleak dystopia of online learning. Social isolation, boredom and anxiety have become a daily feature of their lives for the last year and a half, with referrals of children to mental health services through the roof.

Given the mild and in most cases non-existent impact of Covid on children, how can any risk be justified? Children are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, because these are diseases which can be devastating to children. And in many cases fatal. And the seasonal flu is noticeably more dangerous to young children than Covid, and thousands are jabbed for it every winter as a result. And we have years of real-world evidence about not just the effectiveness of these particular jabs, but their potential risks.

I welcome the arrival of these jabs, I’m double jabbed myself. But when medics sign up for the profession they agree to a hypocratic oath, which is to first do no harm. Needlessly vaccinating children sets another more worrying precedent, which is the principle that we need these vaccines with which to get back to normal, and that we are dependent on big Pharma, rather than public health and strong immunity for the foreseeable future.

Top up jabs once or twice a year for every adult, jabs for children. The inconvenient truth is that notwithstanding old age and comorbidities, Covid is otherwise predominantly a lifestyle related illness, which most viciously attacks those in poor metabolic health.

In the US 79% of covid admissions to intensive care were overweight or obese. So welcome though the vaccines are for the prevention of more severe illness and death, they don’t seem to offer herd immunity or significantly blunt rates of transmission, which means we've got to wean ourselves off the idea of endlessly jabbing people for the foreseeable future and understand that the real vaccine in the long-term is better public health. The issue is no one makes any money out of that. And there's your problem.