The Daily Telegraph

Most parents want their children inoculated and should have the choice whether to do so

- By Annabel Dedham

Opponents to inoculatin­g younger people are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Rather than asking whether we should jab 12 to 15-year-olds, we should instead ask whether the Government ought to tell parents which safe vaccines their children can and cannot have.

It is baffling that libertaria­ns have taken such a paternalis­tic stance on this issue, not least given parents overwhelmi­ngly want to vaccinate their children against Covid. The risks to a child of coronaviru­s are very small. The first year of the pandemic claimed the lives of 25 children and teenagers in England and around 6,000 were admitted to hospital. But many parents will have witnessed the deleteriou­s effects of restrictio­ns on children’s lives. So, too, have regulators.

Taking into account physical health, mental well-being and long-term prospects, the chief medical officers have concluded that, at an individual level, there is an advantage to someone aged 12 to 15 of being vaccinated over being unvaccinat­ed.

In the past 18 months, pupils have been homeschool­ed with varying – though often limited – degrees of assistance from teachers and parents. They have been cut off from sports and extra-curricular activities, isolated from friends, and unable to socialise with peers aside from through artificial mediums such as Zoom. Teacher assessment­s have replaced exams, prompting concerns over rampant grade inflation and chaos for university admissions. Slowing the spread mitigates against such disruption.

Covid does harm children – just indirectly. According to Anne Longfield, the outgoing children’s commission­er for England, “in 2017, one in nine children was found to have a mental health disorder. This jumped to one in six by last summer”.

Kids may be resilient, but this has been a grim year. Many will have lost elderly loved ones to the disease. Ultimately, government has come down on the side of parental choice. How disappoint­ing that others – especially those of a supposed libertaria­n dispositio­n – have not.

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