Girl, 13, ‘bullied’ at school for getting Covid vaccine as anti-vaxx fears grow

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The roll-out of Covid vaccines among 12-15 year-olds in England has got off to a slow start. A report of a child being outcasted by her peers for getting the jab may provide an insight as to why this has been the case.

Writing in the Guardian, a parent of a 13-year-old girl said they wanted their child to get vaccinated “but made it clear that the final decision about whether to go ahead was hers”.

“I think that there’s a benefit to me being able to see grandma without worrying about infecting her,” the girl decided.

“And I can’t face school closing again, so I’m a bit stressed, but I’m going to do it.”

She was the only child in her class to get the jab and, as a result, was singled out by her peers.

“[One child] declared that because [she] had the vaccine, that meant she had now been injected with Covid – so if anyone went near her she would pass Covid on to them,” her parent wrote.

After this point, several children refused to sit next to the young girl in class or during lunch break, leaving her feeling “extremely distressed and confused”.

The parent writes that this is unlikely to be the only such case across the country.

NHS figures released last week showed that the campaign to vaccinate healthy 12-15 year-olds is moving very slowly, with take-up rates being as low as 3.5 percent.

The figure for the whole of England stood at just 15 percent, despite vaccines having been available for those in this age group for almost a month.

The roll-out has suffered from poor administration from the start, but it is clear that other factors are also at play.

While Britons have been overwhelmingly supportive of the vaccine roll-out for adults, it is notable that the vaccination of healthy teenagers has been a much more contentious issue, leading to action by campaign groups, such as Us For Them, and hours upon hours of debates on various radio stations (most notably, talkRADIO).

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For example, campaigners have been persistent in highlighting that the Government’s vaccine advisors at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation told ministers the routine vaccination of healthy 12-15 year-olds should not take place because the benefits do not sufficiently outweigh the risks.

The Government decided to move on with the programme anyway, following different advice from England’s chief medical officer.

Chris Whitty decided the roll-out should go-ahead to help benefit children’s mental health.

It is believed that children may also have been put off getting jabbed by people protesting against the vaccination of healthy children outside schools.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the police “must do more” to prevent these groups from gathering near school gates.

She is quoted in the Telegraph as saying: “Freedom to protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, but it is completely unacceptable for children, teachers, or parents to be intimidated and harassed outside their school by protesters peddling misinformation and dangerous lies about the life-saving vaccine programme.”

The Government had hoped to vaccinate all young teenagers in England before the October half term but this target will not be met.

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