As many as 40% of primary school parents would ‘definitely’ want their child to have a Covid-19 vaccine if offered, the latest survey results show.
The latest round of the Schools Infection Survey (12 August), which was conducted in June among 1,728 parents of children below 16-years-old, found that this number rose to 54% among secondary school parents.
By contrast, the questionnaire – jointly led by Public Health England (PHE) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – found that only 3% of primary school parents and 6% of secondary school parents would ‘definitely not’ want their child to have a vaccine.
This comes a week after NHS England instructed GP practices to begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds with underlying health conditions and all 16- to 17-year-olds.
However, in a recent press conference (4 August), JCVI Covid-19 immunisation chair Professor Lim Wei Shen said that the Committee would ‘prefer not’ to make a decision on recommending vaccination for all 12- to 15-year-olds ‘at this point’.
He said: ‘We know from data from the UK that the vast majority of 12- to 15-year-olds who become seriously unwell are those who have underlying health conditions in the first place, and so by offering vaccination in a targeted manner we will be protected the vast majority of 12- to 15-year-olds.’
‘Lower’ prevalence in schools
The new data also suggest that prevalence of the virus was lower in schools in June 2021 than in the 2020 autumn term.
Carried out across 141 primary and secondary schools within selected local authority areas, the survey found that 0.27% of primary school pupils in schools tested positive on the day of testing, compared to 0.42% in secondary schools.
Positive tests for staff in secondary schools was similarly low at 0.27%.
PHE clarified that the data is ‘not intended to be generalisable to England as a whole’ but does have good representation in the north west.
Dr Patrick Nguipdop-Djomo, assistant professor of epidemiology at LSHTM, said that despite this, the survey indicated that ‘infections in schools mostly reflect the patterns of infection observed in the local community, thus measures to reduce community transmission remain important’.
Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant paediatrician at PHE and study lead, said: ‘Keeping community infection rates low remains critical for keeping children safe and schools open safely.
‘Thanks to all staff and pupils up and down the country for playing their part in keeping transmission of the virus in schools low.’