Children encouraged to take up Covid jab

Covid vaccine

Vaccines are being rolled out to children aged 12-15 from next week. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Health and education leaders in North Somerset are encouraging 12-15 year olds to take up the Covid vaccine to avoid more disruption to their education. 

North Somerset Council’s executive members and the director of public health have welcomed the government’s announcement that children will be offered the vaccination. 

They say the disruptions during the past 18 months have been ‘detrimental’ to their education and mental wellbeing, and believe vaccines will help to keep children in school. 

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, the authority’s executive member for education, said: “Learning is essential for children, and for most a lot of this will be done in school. 

“The disruption they have had to face during these last 18 months has not only been detrimental to their education, but also to their mental health and social development. 

“It’s also had a huge impact on parents and carers as they’ve been forced to navigate switching between face-to-face teaching and home-schooling. 

“It’s so important we do all we can to keep children in school, so I encourage everyone to take up this offer of a vaccination and give children the best chance to avoid future outbreaks of Covid-19.” 

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Although children are deemed at very low risk from the disease, the UK’s four chief medical officers recommended the single dose for 12 to 15-year-olds, saying factors such as disruption to education tipped the balance. 

North Somerset Council’s executive member for health, Cllr Mike Bell, said: “Being in school is not just about learning, it’s also an opportunity for children to mix with their friends and be active, which is so important for their overall health and wellbeing. 

“By getting vaccinated children will reduce their risk of catching and spreading Covid, which means their school is less likely to see future outbreaks. 

“The vaccination is safe and brings more benefits than just the reduced risk of getting seriously ill from the infection.” 

All staff and secondary school and college students were asked to take lateral flow tests when they returned to school earlier this month. The government believes vaccines, and mass testing, will help to reduce cases and keep children in school. 

North Somerset Council’s director of public health, Matt Lenny, added: “As well as getting vaccinated children and staff at schools can reduce the risk of Covid outbreaks by making sure they stay home and get tested if they develop any symptoms of the disease, including a temperature, new continuous cough, or change to their sense of taste or smell. 

“By adding together all the things we’re already doing to prevent Covid infection with the protection children will get from vaccination, we’ve got the best chance for them to stay in school this winter.” 

All children aged 12 to 15 will be offered one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab. Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG (BNSSG) will begin the vaccination programme from September 20. 

A BNSSG Covid-19 Vaccination Programme spokesperson: “Most vaccinations will be given in a school setting and we will also provide community clinics for young people who are unable to attend school-based clinics. 

 “Parents and carers will be asked to give consent for their child to have the Covid-19 vaccine. Your child’s school or local authority will be in touch shortly with more information and a link to an online consent form. Paper consent forms will also be available.”