Routine child immunisations usually carried out by GP practices – such as MMR – may need to be offered in schools to catch up on jabs missed due to Covid, the Government’s advisory body on vaccinations has said.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said this could include MMR jabs as part of the ‘overall recovery’ from the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, and while taking into account the extension to the flu programme.
It comes as the JCVI yesterday advised that children aged 12-15 who are deemed at ‘increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease’ should be offered the Pfizer vaccine.
In its formal statement, the JCVI said: ‘Following disruptions in routine programmes because of the pandemic, there is an urgent need to catch up on non-Covid-19 school immunisations such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and meningitis (MenACWY) vaccinations, and there may be a need to offer other routine vaccines (such as mumps, measles and rubella (MMR)) in the school setting as part of overall recovery.
‘Any extension to the childhood influenza programme also needs to be taken into account.’
It added that although ‘relative benefits have not been compared’, it is the JCVI’s view that ‘most non-Covid-19 childhood immunisations are likely to offer more benefits to children and young people than a Covid-19 immunisation programme’.
A routine childhood Covid vaccination programme is ‘likely to be disruptive to education’ on top of existing programmes and will require ‘considerable’ additional resources, it added.
It comes as the vaccines minister has said that the decision not to extend vaccination to all 12-15-year-olds was ‘not in any way’ affected by vaccine supply and that additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been ordered to deliver the programme.