Desperate parents take primary kids abroad to get Covid jabs over Omicron fears


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The latest data revealed that more than 500 Covid positive children were hospitalised this week and majority of 12 to 15-year-olds haven’t had their first dose

Chris Salt, 41, and wife Glad, 43, from Essex, are hoping to take kids Chloe, seven, and Luke, five, to France after researching jabs there
Chris Salt, 41, and wife Glad, 43, from Essex, are hoping to take kids Chloe, seven, and Luke, five, to France after researching jabs there

Desperate parents are taking primary aged kids abroad to get Covid jabs – amid fears omicron will rip through schools when kids head back this week.

Only vulnerable five to 11-year-olds can get the vaccine in the UK, unlike in the US and most of Europe.

So parents are driving thousands of miles to get youngsters jabbed in places like France and Italy.

Experts fear the new variant is more dangerous for children – and warn of chaos as schools return this week.

Scientists say more than a million children could be infected with the new strain this term – with potentially devastating consequences.

More than 500 Covid positive children were hospitalised this week, with a record 102 admitted on Monday.

No clinically vulnerable primary kids have been jabbed yet – despite millions of healthy adults getting a booster over the festive season.

The majority of 12 to 15-year-olds haven’t had their first dose, and only 2.3% of this age group are fully vaccinated Labour is urgently calling for Covid measures in schools

More than 500 Covid positive children were hospitalised this week, with a record 102 admitted on Monday.

Professor Christina Pagel, from the Clinical Operational Research unit at University College London, said: “It’s going to be really bad. Once community infection rates are high, infections get into schools and then they transmit really quickly.

“That’s exactly what happened with delta last term, where over a million 5-14-year-olds were confirmed with an infection.

“We know with omicron that it’s more transmissible, and we know that previous infection does not protect you from getting infected with omicron.”

On jabs for younger children, she added: “We are going to end up vaccinating this age group. “It’s just incomprehensible to me why we are waiting when we know they are at significant risk from omicron.”

The government approved one dose Pfizer jab for 5 to 11-year-olds on December 23, but at present it will only be offered to 300,000 clinically vulnerable children. It appears from NHS figures that none have yet been immunised.

The drive to vaccinate the three million 12 to 15-year-olds has also been slow. Only 1.3 million have received a first jab, and 70,000 a second.

Dr David Strain, from the University of Exeter medical school, said: “We have 500 children in hospital with omicron. “We didn’t see that before and it’s a scary number given we are just at the outset.

“With the original variants, the virus couldn’t overwhelm their bodies. With omicron, the copies the virus makes are now enough to have an impact on a child’s body.

“What I am really worried about is a new epidemic of Long Covid in children. At this age, their brains are effectively sponges.

“Some early studies suggest Covid can cause an adult brain to age by 10 years.

“If the effect is the same on children, we could end up with a generation who don’t get the normal development.

“I do think now we are in a position where we should be vaccinating children – for their own health.”

Public health professional Alice Chapman-Hatchett, 44, drove her nine-year-old daughter almost 800 miles from Maidstone, Kent, to Milan, Italy last month to get her vaccinated.

Alice said: “We’d never normally drive for 13 hours through the snow. “But I don’t want to be in the position where my daughter has neurological problems, or heart and lung issues, at the age of 20, and says, ‘Why didn’t you do everything you could to protect me?’”

And Chris Salt, 41, and wife Glad, 43, from Essex, are hoping to take kids Chloe, seven, and Luke, five, to France after researching jabs there. He said: “It’s something we’re absolutely considering.”

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Even under the new rules, some children in the 5 to 11 age group with serious health complications could miss out on a jab.

One mum told us she’d spent £2500 on two trips to California to get her severely asthmatic seven-year-old son double jabbed.

She said: “It was money well spent – I’ve since been told he wouldn’t qualify for a vaccination in the UK under the new rules as he hasn’t been in hospital in the last two years.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “We need to see action from the government on ventilation.

“It’s not good enough that all that’s been suggested is that schools open their windows and pupils have another winter of learning in coats.

“We want to see guaranteed testing for pupils and staff to avoid unnecessary time out of class.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “There’s got to be an effort to vaccinate the remainder of the teenagers and do double doses. “Then, there’s got to be the effort to vaccinate the children in primary schools who live with people who are immunocompromised.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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