Concerns raised over Covid vaccination in schools programme after 'lower-than-hoped-for uptake' among South Tyneside children
Concerns have been raised after new Government data revealed a ‘lower-than-hoped-for uptake’ of Covid vaccinations by secondary aged school pupils.
Despite the vaccination in schools programme beginning to be rolled out in the penultimate week of September, as of October 17, only 14.1% of 12 to 15 year olds in South Tyneside had received their Covid jabs.
The reasons are being put down to “logistical issues” rather than a lack of interest.
A statement from South Tyneside’s Public Health Department said: “The current uptake in the vaccination for healthy 12-15 years olds is lower than we had hoped, however this not due to unwillingness to have the vaccine but rather down to logistical issues surrounding the delivery of the vaccine programme in schools.
"We are aware of the challenges to deliver this ambitious programme and are working with our colleagues in the NHS to ensure any young person who wishes to be vaccinated will have the opportunity to do so.”
The statement follows on from national and regional reports of children, whose parents had signed consent forms, being unable to receive their Covid jabs due to an “underestimation” of the time taken to administer the jabs.
The NHS has moved to reassure parents that all children who’ve submitted consent forms for the jab will, in time, receive it.
A spokeswoman for the Covid-19 Vaccination programme for the North East and North Cumbria said: "It's encouraging to see the number of parents who are providing consent for their children to be vaccinated.
"Local school's immunisation services are working hard to provide vaccination clinics at schools across Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead and we'd like to reassure parents that all eligible children who wish to have the vaccine will have the opportunity to do so in the coming weeks.”
Children are only able to be vaccinated in schools, but the North East’s vaccine chief, Professor Neil Watson, has hinted this could soon change to enable more children get their jabs.
Professor Watson said: “It’s not surprising that as teams move through the schools there are some schools and some year groups who need following up with.
"We have always been keen to offer the public choice on where they can get the vaccine and we are hoping that degree of flexibility will appear for children as well.”
It is a more positive situation with sixth form and college age students with 59.8 per cent of 16 and 17 year olds having received their first jab and 20.3% having received their second dose. In this demographic, only people within three months of their 18th birthday and those who are either clinically vulnerable or living with people someone who is clinically vulnerable are offered a second dose.