Tween Vaccines in London?
June 30, 2021 5:18 AM   Subscribe

As of mid-June, the MHRA in the UK had approved Pfizer for 12-15 year-olds. But there are no plans to offer vaccines to under-18s at present. How can a parent get a willing 12yo vaccinated in the UK?

Secondary schools are shutting down regularly with clusters of cases, and we're beginning to see that not all young people are as resistant to the disease as we once believed. Are there any avenues for parents of 12-15yos in London who want to be vaccinated, but aren't in any listed medical risk groups?

Have you managed to get a 12yo vaccinated, in the UK or elsewhere? Do you know of upcoming changes that could open new options in the near future?

We're a brace of double-AZ-vaccinated parents with a 12yo child who rides the bus to secondary school, and we worry that the lifting of lockdown restrictions that is coming under the new Health Secretary will put this child at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 before vaccination is available. We've already had one contact group scare (via a child who keeps testing positive repeatedly over weeks), and want to know if there are options we're missing.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are starting to be places in the US that offer vaccine to tourists as official enticement. In practical terms getting 12-year old vaccinated in the US is easy; make an appointment online with Walgreens or CVS (bug pharmacy chains) and they'll get one. Morality wise it might be little dubious as most likely they can't charge you or your out-of-country insurance and thus US taxpayers would be footing the bill. Vaccines are available with lot availability so getting one is quick and easy besides the 3 weeks waiting period in between.
posted by zeikka at 7:01 AM on June 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Vaccines are not available privately in the UK or outside the NHS vaccination programme. You will therefore not be able to get your 12 year old vaccinated in the UK.

At age 12, the risk/benefit ratio for vaccination against COVID is not clear. Twelve year olds are objectively at extremely low risk from COVID19, so it is actually not a clear cut question as to whether it is safer to take the vaccine than to contract the virus and gain a 'natural' immunity.

This is part of what JCVI are considering when they decide who to administer vaccines to through the official programme. They may decide to extend it to 16+ year olds, but we are probably quite a while away from them determining that 11+ should get it, if at all.
posted by knapah at 7:10 AM on June 30, 2021 [6 favorites]

Just a data point, here in Vienna, Austria, the municipality of Vienna currently offers vaccination (with Pfizer) for 12-15 year olds. I will take my 12yr old this Friday, for pretty much the same reasons you give. Austrian health authorities do consider it safe.
posted by 15L06 at 8:23 AM on June 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine has a 12/13 year old son who got the vaccine here in Birmingham, UK. Said child has A LOT of serious health conditions (and he had to be sedated as he's non-verbal autistic with a lot of challenging behaviour) so that may be why.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:00 AM on June 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Guam (US territory) has started the Air V&V program to encourage tourism by offering vaccines to those 12 and up. Not sure it’s worth the risk of the long haul flights in your case, and it’s quite expensive if you weren’t already planning a long vacation.
posted by momus_window at 12:13 PM on June 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Vaccine tourism is a real thing in the US. If you are able to enter with your child vaccination would be easy.

For those who say kids are at low risk if infected, it's not all about the kid. It's about everyone they interact with, including those who are younger. There is also not no risk to kids, since some are hospitalized and have sequelae and some have died, though I agree this is a pretty small number.

Mostly the push to vaccinate kids is to raise herd immunity, which is when the ratio of vaccinated people is high enough to interrupt and lower the risk of infection to those who are not able to be vaccinated, or for those who are not well protected by vaccination, like immunocompromised people such as organ transplant recipients or cancer patients.

This is the central point of Public Health. It's not all about the individual but what is best for the community as a whole, though the individual almost always benefits as well.
posted by citygirl at 2:31 PM on June 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

UK citizens are barred from entering the US at the moment, with just a few exceptions...
posted by altolinguistic at 3:01 PM on June 30, 2021

Best answer: Getting a tween vaccinated might be too big of an ask, but per the Guardian today, “Teenagers aged 17 and in some cases 16 have been getting jabs in the boroughs of Enfield, Hounslow and Brent despite not having an underlying condition or living with someone who does.”
posted by mumkin at 3:20 PM on June 30, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you all for your suggestions. We're all actually US citizens, so they'd have to let us in; but we're not travelling because there is a plague on.

We have been looking to Hounslow for early vaccination efforts over this entire year. They were the first to hit certain age groups in many cases, including the sudden "no questions asked" 18+ vaccinations.

I appreciate that the question of "should" was a relevant tangent to this question, and I must admit I found it...unconvincing to claim that immunising a youth population through exposure to a contagious and deadly disease was "less risky" than through exposure to a remarkably safe vaccine. I understand there are complexities when considering youth populations, but from where we're sitting the alternative is simply that they catch COVID. And right now it seems like they catch it and spread it all over the place.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:40 PM on June 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Re: vaccine tourism. Explainer: Countries vaccinating children against Covid-19: The following is a list of some countries which have approved or are considering vaccinating children, via Reuters earlier this month.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:07 PM on June 30, 2021

Here is a Twitter thread about this issue. Some useful and interesting links.
posted by knapah at 1:19 AM on July 1, 2021

Response by poster: Just a quick update on this situation: it seems that the vaccines minister in the UK has pledged vaccination for 12+ with complicating medical circumstances (increased risk to themselves or those in their home).

This doesn't yet help me, but it's another step in the right direction.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 9:05 AM on July 19, 2021

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