Director’s Update September 2021
Vaccines, Science and Communications
Sussex health news in September is likely to be dominated by the planned roll out of COVID vaccine boosters and inoculating children.
However, the evidence for COVID booster vaccines and vaccinating children is nowhere near as strong as it is for providing first and second doses for adults to protect against serious illness. This means a new communications approach and more evidence is needed for our vaccination programme in Sussex if the very high levels of public support are to continue.
There is some evidence that booster vaccines and immunising children offer higher levels of protection, particularly in containing the spread of the virus to more vulnerable people and for the over 60s. Whereas some experts such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and British Medical Journal say we don’t have the evidence yet to know the detail of benefits.
The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is still considering the evidence for children and third doses as current knowledge does not yet support ‘following the science’ for these vaccines.
In Israel, the first country to mass vaccinate, infections and illness recently increased and booster vaccines have been extended to all adults over 30. The Israeli Government say this has led to reduced infections and illness, but others say this may also be down to changes in behaviour such renewed mask wearing and social distancing.
There is also a moral issue at stake when we look internationally. In a global pandemic we sometimes hear that ‘no-one is safe until everyone is safe’. Yet some countries have not yet inoculated 10% of their population.
The WHO say that more first and second doses in less vaccinated countries will save many more lives than third doses for all except the most vulnerable.
One of the biggest challenges for us all now is to understand and follow the science in how we plan and deliver our third doses and inoculating children.