Campaign to prioritise disabled children as Pfizer vaccine approved for use in 12- to 15-year-olds

Fiona Simpson
Friday, June 4, 2021

The Pfizer-Biontech Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use for 12- to 15-year-olds sparking calls to prioritise diasbled children if it is rolled-out.

The jab has already been approved for young people aged 16 and older. Picture: Adobe Stock
The jab has already been approved for young people aged 16 and older. Picture: Adobe Stock

The announcement has today (4 June) been made by the government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and will now be passed to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will now decide if the vaccine will be extended to the age group.

Organisations supporting the families of disabled and clinically vulnerable children say the news has sparked fresh hope for those who have been shielding for more than a year.

They are calling on the JCVI to prioritise these groups if the vaccine programme is rolled-out to children aged 12 and above. The jab has already been approved for use in adults and teenagers over the age of 16.

Contact, a charity supporting families of disabled children, has previously written to the committee urging the prioritisation of disabled children.

Una Summerson, Contact’s campaign manager, said “Many families we support are still stuck at home desperately waiting for news of a vaccine for children. Now approval has been given, we hope that the vaccine committee will say that clinically vulnerable and other disabled children should be prioritised for the vaccine and for the government to act on this.”

Research by the charity shows that 70 per cent of parents want their clinically vulnerable or disabled child to have a Covid vaccine when it has been through trials and is licensed for use in children.

A further 10 per cent say they would like their child to receive the vaccine without approval from the CHM while a handful say their child has already been vaccinated "off-licence" but "after a lengthy and difficult process".

The decision to approve the vaccine for younger children comes following a “rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine in this age group” by MHRA and Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), the government has said.

It added that “no new side effects were identified and the safety data in children was comparable with that seen in young adults”.

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said that the use of the vaccine on this age group would be carefully monitored.

“No extension to an authorisation would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met,” she said.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the CHM said that more than 2,000 children aged 12 to 15 had taken part in randomised clinical trials using both the vaccine and a placebo.

“There were no cases of Covid-19 from seven days after the second dose in the vaccinated group, compared with 16 cases in the placebo group. 

“In addition, data on neutralising antibodies showed the vaccine working at the same level as seen in adults aged 16-25 years. These are extremely positive results.”

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