Vaccination forms part of our risk assessment to minimise the COVID risks as much as possible, both to the young people and their families and the Trust team (skippers, volunteers, full-time staff) involved in our trips.
The Trust was able to run a successful summer of trips in 2021 due to the COVID-safety measures we put in place, and we were delighted there weren't any COVID cases linked to a trip among young people, volunteers, skippers, or our staff.
But whereas we ran at reduced capacity in 2021, with 315 young people coming on a trip, in 2022 we hope to return to pre-pandemic numbers of 600+ young people safely joining the Trust. This is the right thing to do to support more young people after cancer treatment, but it increases the risk of possible COVID transmission among a wider group of people.
Vaccination forms part of our risk assessment to minimise the COVID risks as much as possible, both to the young people and their families and the Trust team (skippers, volunteers, full-time staff) who will be involved in the trips.
We will continue to review our position in line with Government advice and with our medical advisers. We need to find the appropriate balance between young people being able to get the support they need while keeping everyone as safe as possible.
18 and overs
We are asking everyone to be three weeks post second vaccination by the time of their trip (unless medically exempt). This is an extension of the requirement to be three weeks’ post first vaccination in 2021, as many people had not yet have been offered their second dose.
16-17 year olds
We are following JCVI guidance for 16-17 year olds, and currently require all 16 and 17 year olds to be three weeks post their first vaccination to attend a trip in 2022 (unless medically exempt). The advice is the vaccine considerably reduces the risk of COVID in this age-group and young people will be afforded around 80% protection against hospitalisation after their first dose.
Following the updated JCVI update on 15 November 2021 that "young people aged 16 to 17 years who are not in an at-risk group should be offered a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine," we will make a decision on and communicate any updated requirements on second vaccinations in late January/early February.
12-15 year olds
After considering the latest guidance, we are reviewing our position on vaccinations requirements for otherwise healthy 12-15 year-olds.
The JCVI advised that “given the very low risk of serious COVID in otherwise healthy 12 to 15 year olds, considerations on the potential harms and benefits of vaccination are very finely balanced” and “the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12 to 15 year olds at this time.”
The decision to offer vaccinations to this age-group followed a recommendation from the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), who advised that “the additional likely benefits of reducing educational disruption, and the consequent reduction in public health harm from educational disruption, on balance provide sufficient extra advantage.”
Overall, we feel we will be better placed to decide on whether we ask young people aged 12-15 to be vaccinated for our 2022 trips by the end of January/early February. This decision will consider several factors including the prevalence of COVID in the wider population, national uptake of vaccinations in the 12-15 age-group and any pending recommendations on offering vaccinations to young people under 12.
We will then communicate that decision to our hospital partners and families/young people.
If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact the team at [email protected]
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