Vaccinations – lower the age, lower the risk

By Laura Griffiths

With the new Chief Executive of NHS England announcing that one in five people who have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are between the ages of 18-34, it is welcome news for many that the opportunity for vaccinations has been extended to 16 and 17-year olds, with the likelihood of those aged 12 and over being able to be vaccinated later on in the year, following approval for those with underlying conditions being able to receive the jab.

We should be proud of the success that the vaccination programme has had so far in terms of protecting the elderly and more vulnerable members of our communities and we should feel encouraged by this success to continue the roll out to young members of society who have also been deeply impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Like many of us, the pandemic caused a significant amount of disruption, and this was also felt by this age group in terms of education more than ever.

However, while there may be concerns about the impact the COVID vaccinations may have on younger people, we must remember that previous generations of this age group have had ‘new’ vaccinations before like the HPV jab to protect from cervical cancer. Many people prior to this had the BCG jab and ill effects of vaccinations are incredibly rare. Research by the JCVI, the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, will have been performed for all of the previous vaccinations that have protected us from diseases for several years. This level of research required for the extension of this recommendation to COVID-19 has not been easy but with transmission high among younger age groups, it is the next logical step in keeping COVID levels low.

Through this extensive research being conducted, the opportunity has been established for young people to be protected in terms of vaccinations, then ‘returning to normal’ may have taken a lot longer. Having the vaccination requires a lot less self-isolation if you want to go travelling or for those due to be 18 later on this year, means you can experience the bright lights and remixes of your favourite songs at nightclubs with your friends like many before you did when they turned 18.

Ultimately, we all want some form of normal back in our lives regardless of age. Through the offering of this vaccine to lower age groups, we are ensuring that this will happen.