Is Britain’s record breaking vaccine rollout faltering? Worrying figures show Scotland has jabbed three times as many 12-15 year olds as England
- Covid campaign is progressing far quicker in Scotland with third vaccinated
- The disparity comes despite the green light to vaccinate all those aged 12 to 15
- Expert warned that the slow pace in England risked the health of schoolchildren
Covid vaccination of secondary school children is proceeding at a snail’s pace in England – with only one in nine (11.5 per cent) 12 to 15-year-olds currently jabbed.
The campaign is progressing far quicker in Scotland, where a third (33.4 per cent) of that age group has had their vaccinations.
The disparity comes despite the green light to vaccinate all those aged 12 to 15 being given on both sides of the border on the same day, September 20.
Last night, a vaccines expert warned that the slow pace in England risked the health of schoolchildren and older family members.
In England, just 3,725 12 to 15-year-olds were vaccinated on average each day in the first week of the campaign, from September 20 to 26
Low vaccination rates in teens would ‘amplify the outbreak’, said immunologist Professor Peter Openshaw, ‘inevitably spreading it to any other part of the population that’s unvaccinated’.
In August, a University of Exeter modelling study calculated vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds could prevent tens of thousands of Covid admissions by Christmas, mainly of older people, and save up to 6,500 lives.
But the fewer children jabbed, the smaller the benefit.
In England, just 3,725 12 to 15-year-olds were vaccinated on average each day in the first week of the campaign, from September 20 to 26.
In Scotland, the daily figure was 2,260 – despite its population in this group being 12 times smaller.
A key difference has been location: England has focused on vaccinating in schools, Scotland on local ‘drop-in’ clinics.
The English programme has also been marred by organisational problems. One South London family received a text from their GP on September 20 inviting their 13-year-old son to have his jab immediately – then the invitation was withdrawn without explanation.
His mother said: ‘My son has remained unvaccinated for weeks, while Covid rates in schools are high and rising.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said drop-in clinics had made teen vaccination ‘quick and easy’.
Prof Openshaw said: ‘We need to look at all possible measures to improve teen vaccination rates in England, including drop-in clinics.’
While Covid infection in teens was ‘generally mild’, Prof Openshaw said that hospitals were reporting ‘quite a significant number of very seriously sick kids being admitted’.
He added: ‘If you’re given the choice between becoming immune through vaccine or natural infection, vaccination is by far the safer way.’
Last night, Unison and the National Education Union urged a return of Covid ‘bubbles’ – in which groups of pupils are sent home if one tests positive – and compulsory mask-wearing in schools.
NHS England said: ‘In just two weeks, hundreds of schools have already held vaccination clinics, with more than 160,000 children getting protected.’
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old girl in a wheelchair and her mother were targeted by anti-vax protesters yesterday outside a vaccination centre at Cardiff’s Bayside.
Her mother said the protesters accused her of using her daughter as ‘a lab rat’.
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