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Covid jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds: how the UK scheme works

Covid jabs

Covid jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds: how the UK scheme works

As concerns grow about the slow deployment of Covid jabs to older children we take a look at who is eligible and where the vaccinations can be given.

Which children are now eligible for vaccination?

All children in the UK aged 12 to 15 are now eligible for a Covid jab. The decision was made by the UK’s chief medical officers after consideration of a range of evidence, including the impact on education.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation previously said that while the health benefits of vaccinating this entire age group were greater than the risks, they were not enough on their own to support the move; they then advised that the jabs only be given to children either at risk from Covid or living with someone at risk.

Healthy 12- to 15-year-olds are being offered one Covid jab at the moment, but those vulnerable to Covid, or living with someone who is, will be offered two doses eight weeks apart.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have been approved for use in the UK for children aged 12 to 17. But the NHS website suggests that at present under 18s are only offered the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

Where will children be vaccinated?

According to the NHS and the UK Health Security Agency, Covid jabs will be delivered to most children in schools, during the premises’ open hours, by local school age immunisation services (SAIS) – the same programme that coordinates other school-based jabs such as those against meningitis and HPV.

Letters about when this will happen will be sent by the school. According to NHS England 12- to 15-year-olds who have underlying health conditions can also be flagged for vaccination by their GP and invited to book a jab.

Children who are home schooled, or who do not attend for another reason, will also have the chance to receive a Covid jab. “Parents and guardians will be contacted about when and where the vaccine will be offered,” the NHS said.

Can you get your child vaccinated at a walk-in centre or elsewhere?

All those aged over 18 can get vaccinated at a walk-in centre, however not all centres offer shots to those under the age of 18. An NHS website allows users to find their nearest walk-in vaccination centre and see whether it offers vaccinations to those aged 16 and over, or adults only.

The website states: “If you’re under 16 and eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine you cannot use these walk-in sites to get vaccinated. Please wait to be contacted by the NHS.”

What are the rules on consent?

As with other vaccinations at schools, parents or guardians will be asked for consent for their child. However if this is not given and the child wants to be vaccinated the guidelines say the vaccination teams will decide whether the child is able to make an informed decision. If the child is “Gillick competent” – able to make the decision – providers will try to discuss the matter with parents or guardians, but they cannot stand in the way if such a child wants to have the jab.

If a child has had Covid this term is there any benefit to their having a vaccination?

A natural infection is likely to create some immunity and this response may be broader than would be elicited by vaccination alone – although few studies have looked at just how high this level of natural protection is in children, and there may be variation between individuals. Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, speaking at an inquiry into Covid-19 and children’s vaccination by the Education Committee, said the levels of protection could be on a par with those arising from vaccination.

“I would anticipate that vaccines and natural immunity in the sense of if you got infected, let us assume, will be broadly similar. I would secondly assume that it will take longer probably to wane in children than in older adults, just because we know that in older adults things tend to wane. That is an assumption. Both of those may be untrue,” he said.

But experts say that even if a child has some natural protection this is likely to be boosted by vaccination, giving better protection, as seen in adults.

“The jab will boost and prolong their protective immunity. Latest data also shows that adults who are double jabbed after having had a natural infection have better levels of protection,” said Prof Lawrence Young, of Warwick University.

Prof Danny Altmann, of Imperial College London, agreed. “From an immunology standpoint the clear answer would be an overwhelming ‘yes’ to the notion of getting vaccinated even if recently infected.”

That chimes with information from the British Society for Immunology and UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium which states: “It’s likely that for most people vaccination against Covid-19 will induce more effective and longer lasting immunity than that induced by natural infection with the virus. Even if you’ve had Covid-19 you’re recommended to get the vaccine because it will boost whatever immunity you have from natural infection.”

According to the guidelines people should not attend a vaccine appointment within four weeks of having a positive Covid-19 test, or if self-isolating or waiting for a Covid-19 test.

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Health

Hepatitis kills 28 people in Nasarawa as lawmakers call for ‘ state of emergency’ in health sector

Twenty-eight people have lost their lives to hepatitis in Ekye development area in the Doma local government area of Nasarawa State.

According to the member representing Doma South constituency in the State House of Assembly, Hon Musa Abubakar, the deaths occurred between October 2023 and February 2024.

The development necessitated the call by the State House of Assembly on Governor Abdullahi Sule to declare a state of emergency to tackle the menace and other health issues in the state.

Abubakar in a motion of urgent public importance presented before the Assembly, described the outbreak of hepatitis and the death toll as alarming.

“Mr Speaker and my colleagues, there is a serious health problem in my constituency as 28 people have been reportedly killed as a result of hepatitis outbreak from October last year to date. Hepatitis is killing my people and something needs to be done to curtail the disease in the area.

“I beg that the government should tackle this problem, we should come up with a strong committee to address this issue. Go to rural areas and see, our health facilities are in bad shape”, he said.

Hon Muhammad Oyanki, PDP, Doma North; Daniel Ogazi, APC, Kokona East;  Ibrahim Peter Akwe,  PDP, Obi 1; Solomon Akwashiki, SDP, Lafia Central; and Hon Larry Ven Bawa, APC, Akwanga North called for urgent action towards ending the menace.

Speaking on the matter, the speaker, Daniel Jatau, described the situation as unfortunate and sad. He said the death of 28 people as a result of the outbreak of the disease was a matter of urgent concern to both the government and the people of the state.

“We have two resolutions to the effects that His Excellency, Gov. Abdullahi Sule is hereby directed to ask the Ministry of Health to move their experts to the affected communities to ascertain the situation and do the needful.

“Secondly, the state government should declare a state of emergency on hepatitis and other deadly diseases in the state”, he said.

He sympathised with the people of Doma South constituency and the families over the death of their loved ones and prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest.

He directed the clerk of the House to communicate the House resolutions to Governor Abdullahi Sule for necessary action.

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Health

Tinubu approves immediate upgrade of key health facilities across the country

President Bola Tinubu has approved the immediate upgrade of key health infrastructure and equipment across all six geo-political zones in line with his administration’s vision of overhauling the health and social welfare sector for enhanced service delivery to all Nigerians.

Upgrading health infrastructure and equipment is a top priority of President Tinubu’s Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative. To advance this landmark effort, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collaboration with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) will carry out the comprehensive upgradation of cancer-treatment infrastructure and other critical developments in six tertiary hospitals across several geopolitical zones, in addition to the full renovation and expansion of prior investments to improve broad-based access to high-quality healthcare in all six geo-political zones of the federation.

The following teaching hospitals across geo-political zones have been marked for the establishment of oncology and nuclear medicine centres per facility as part of President Tinubu’s bid to ensure that world class cancer diagnosis and care is accessible across the country:

(1) University of Benin Teaching Hospital

(2) Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital

(3) University of Nigeria (Nsukka) Teaching Hospital

(4) Federal Teaching Hospital, Katsina

(5) University of Jos Teaching Hospital

(6) Lagos University Teaching Hospital

The following ten critical health care service expansion projects across the fields of radiology, clinical pathology, medical and radiation oncology, and cardiac catheterization will be carried out in ten hospitals across all geo-political zones:

(1) North-West: Reference Hospital, Kaduna — (Radiology, clinical pathology, medical and radiation oncology)

(2) South-East: Medical Diagnostic Centre Complex, Enugu — (Radiology, clinical pathology, medical & radiation oncology)

(3) North-West: Usman Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto — (Diagnostic and intervention radiology, clinical pathology, and cardiac catheterization)

(4) South-West: University College Hospital, Ibadan — (Diagnostic and intervention radiology, clinical pathology, and cardiac catheterization)

(5) South-South: University of Uyo Teaching Hospital — (Radiology and clinical pathology)

(6) North-East: Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi — (Radiology and clinical pathology)

(7) South-South: Federal Medical Centre, Asaba — (Radiology and clinical pathology)

(8) North-Central: Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre Complex, Ilorin — (Radiology and clinical pathology)

(9) North-Central: Jos University Teaching Hospital — (Radiology and clinical pathology)

(10) North-East: Federal Medical Centre, Nguru — (Radiology and clinical pathology)

These critical projects, set to be delivered within 12-18 months, will improve screening and diagnostics for communicable and non-communicable diseases; reduce mortality rates and improve outcomes for non-communicable diseases; create considerable employment opportunities for clinical, administrative, and managerial personnel across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones, all while building the capacity of clinical personnel in advanced procedures, diagnostics and treatment modalities, in accordance with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

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Health

Tinubu is appointed AU champion for health

President Bola Tinubu has been appointed the African Union (AU) Champion for Human Resources for Health and Community Health Delivery Partnership. This is following his ambitious, innovative, and people-focused efforts in the sector.

According to a statement on Friday by his spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the honour came in recognition of President Tinubu’s commitment to train 120,000 frontline health workers nationwide within 16 months and to double the number of primary health facilities in communities across all local government areas in Nigeria from 8,800 to over 17,000 in the next three years.

Ngelale said that the President is also committed to doubling health personnel enrolment capacity from accredited nursing and midwifery institutions to accommodate the new demand created by new facilities across Nigeria, while he is resolved to establish a paid volunteer youth force of social accountability officers to monitor the operational functioning and financial integrity of primary health centres.

He said that the African Union identified the Nigerian leader as the right champion for the noble and actionable continental effort.

In a letter to Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs , the Commission of the African Union (Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention — Africa CDC) said that President Tinubu was appointed on the recommendation of the Committee of Heads of State and Government of Africa CDC, under the leadership of Comorian President Azali Assoumani, who is the AU Chairperson.

In his new role, the commission invited President Tinubu to address the Ministerial Executive Leadership Programme (MELP) under the theme, ‘Impactful Leadership in Health: A Whole Government Approach’, billed for Saturday at the Africa CDC Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the margins of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government.

The Tinubu administration is attracting global investments in Nigeria’s health sector for the provision of cutting-edge infrastructure, equipment, and world-class manpower for improved access to quality healthcare by all Nigerians.

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