The Daily Telegraph

The risks and ethical issues mean I will be sending a ‘no way’ letter to my son’s school

- By Rowan Pelling

Hmmm, let me weigh this up. Will I send my 13-year-son to have the Covid vaccine at school? He’s of an age and robust health profile where the risk to him from having Covid-19 is thankfully virtually zero. On the other hand, the vaccine comes with extremely rare, but very real, risks of myocarditi­s and pericardit­is (mostly observed in young males). Furthermor­e, as we don’t have years of safety data from its use there could yet be some perturbing surprises.

My husband and I firmly agree that we’ll be sending a “no way José” letter to his school. Or, at least, it’s no way until he’s old enough to choose for himself – like his 17-year-old brother.

The reasons I cite were precisely the common sense ones the JCVI, as a body of expert scientific opinion, felt it couldn’t actively recommend the use of vaccines with that age group. But there are wider ethical objections. We’ve never before suggested as a nation that children should undergo a medical interventi­on that’s unnecessar­y in terms of their safety – and will prove harmful to a few – to better protect wider society. Especially when there’s no overwhelmi­ng evidence that will even be the case.

Finally, there’s an interestin­g debate going on about the benefits of natural immunity to the young. Data from a big study in Israel suggests the protection offered by having had Covid-19 is greater than that offered by the vaccine alone.

Of course, clinically vulnerable children should be offered the vaccine, as should those with vulnerable family members. And if you want your perfectly healthy child to have the jab, go ahead. The hallmark of a civilised society is that we allow families to make reasonable health decisions on behalf of their offspring, without censure, bribes or mandates.

If only the Government was equally judicious. It’s been stated that children who disagree with their parents’ decision can sneak behind their backs and overrule it. Eroding parental authority to bully through an unnecessar­y safeguard is the single most sinister measure any Government has taken in my lifetime.

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