As recommendations go, it was lukewarm, to say the least.
On Monday, Prof Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, told the nation that “on balance” children aged 12 to 15 should be vaccinated, before providing only vague reasons to back up the decision.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has already ruled that the benefits are so marginal for schoolchildren that the jabs were not worth the risk.
However, after 10 days of mulling over the wider advantages to education and mental health, the chief medical officers of the four nations decided to approve a rollout.
“What we’re not trying to do is say to children ‘You must, must, must, must, must’,” said Prof Whitty.
“What we’re saying is we think, on balance, the benefits both at an individual level, and in terms of wider indirect benefits to education and through that to public health, are in favour.”
Prof Whitty insisted that it would not be a “silver bullet”, but said it was a “potentially useful tool” to help reduce the health impacts that come through educational disruption.
“The disruption in education that has happened in the last period since March 2020 has been extraordinarily difficult for children and has a big impact on health, mental health and long-term public health,” he added.