The Committee said the vast majority of children experience mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and of the very few children who have been hospitalised with COVID-19, they have had other existing conditions.
The committee’s recommendation comes as schoolchildren in England prepare to return to the classroom for the new school year on Monday.
They will not be required to wear masks in classrooms and experts are predicting a big rise in the number of infections because although they are unlikely to develop serious illness from the virus, they “act like vectors, transmitting the disease from household to household.”
In comments made before the committee’s recommendation, Dr Peter English, a retired consultant in Communicable Disease Control, former editor of Vaccines in Practice and immediate past chair of the BMA’s Public Health Medicine Committee, told The Herald and The Age, that vaccinating children was both vital and beneficial for children.
“If we are to get closer to herd immunity, which may not be achievable through vaccination alone, given the more infectious delta variant, it is vital that we vaccinate as high a proportion of the population as possible with particular emphasis on vaccinating those with the most contacts, as they are most likely to spread the disease to others,” he said.
“Vaccinating children will be vital to this.
“There are also likely to be net benefits for the children: the vaccines are not completely safe, but they are extremely safe.
“There is now abundant evidence for this for children aged 12 and above and increasing evidence for younger children.
“When you take into consideration the risk of longer-term sequelae, the disease is far from trivial in children,” Dr English said.