ASCL comment on recommendation to offer Covid vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds

13/09/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on the recommendation of the chief medical officers to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds.
 
Commenting on the recommendation of the chief medical officers to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

We welcome the recommendation to offer coronavirus vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds as a vital step forward in reducing educational disruption and keeping these young people in the classroom. This is particularly important in light of recently published evidence from the SAGE modelling group which warned that it is highly likely that exponential increases in infections will be seen in school-attending age groups in the autumn term. It is crucial that everything possible is done to prevent this from happening and to prevent attendance from once again unravelling. 

“We are conscious of the debate that has been raging over vaccinations, but it is vital to see this issue in the context of educational disruption. While the evidence is that children are less likely than older age groups to suffer severe symptoms as a result of catching Covid, the damage caused by disrupted schooling is very real and very apparent, both in terms of learning loss and in the impact on mental health and wellbeing. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We must put a stop to this disruption.

“We have been in discussion with the Department for Education over the role of schools in England in vaccinations, and it is absolutely clear that this will be limited to hosting vaccination sessions and related administrative tasks. The vaccinations will be administered by healthcare staff and any disagreements over the question of consent between children and parents, which is likely to be extremely rare in practice, will be resolved by healthcare staff. Schools are well-versed in hosting NHS vaccination sessions as they already do this in relation to other vaccines.

“Many of our members have been receiving letters from various pressure groups threatening schools and colleges with legal action if they take part in any Covid vaccination programme. This is extremely unhelpful and we would ask those involved in this correspondence to stop attempting to exert pressure on schools and colleges. The question of whether or not to offer vaccinations to this age group has clearly been thoroughly considered and the decision on whether or not to accept this offer is a matter for families. 

“Data from the Office for National Statistics indicates that most parents would be likely to accept a Covid-19 vaccine for their child with around 86% reporting they would definitely or probably say yes to them having a vaccine. In comparison, 6% of secondary school parents said they would definitely not want their child to have a vaccine
.”