In lieu of the JCVI's recommendation against vaccinating children, those under 18 years of age will be allowed to decide autonomously whether to get jabbed or not.
Children to be given autonomy
Vaccine Deployment Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, confirmed that youngsters will have the final decision regardless of their parents' wishes to get the vaccine. However, this will only be the case provided that the child in question is deemed 'competent enough' to make that decision for themselves.
The recommendation to get vaccinated will also depend on whether the child presents underlying health conditions that could impact them more severely if they contract the coronavirus. According to Mr Zahawi:
What you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent, then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do.
The JCVI's lack of endorsement for those aged between 12 and 15 from getting vaccinated lies primarily in the lack of evidence that shows any real benefit from jabbing this age group. Not to mention, they also believe that undesired side effects, such as heart inflammation and chest pains, could outweigh the benefits.
Children encouraged to get vaccinated
Although this leaves more freedom of choice and the chance to vaccinate those who need it more, other health experts believe that this specific age group should still get jabbed. Professor Peter Openshaw, of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) which advises the Government, explained that:
We do know the virus is circulating very widely amongst this age group, and that if we're going to be able to get the rates down and also prevent further surges of infection perhaps later in the winter, then this is the group that needs to become immune.
I would say that teenagers are often amongst the most altruistic and the most generous people in society. They often think very deeply about these moral and ethical issues and they want to protect others as well.
So I would think that a lot of teenagers, actually, if they see the evidence in the round, would prefer to be vaccinated.