Covid vaccine would give children normality, says headmaster

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Teenagers walking in school corridorImage source, Getty Images
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Pupils need to get back to normality, says a Cardiff head teacher

Children need to be vaccinated to get back to "some kind of normality", a head teacher has said.

On Tuesday, one dose of a Covid jab for children aged 12 to 15 was given the go ahead.

But Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton said the choice to do so was ultimately down to the young people and their parents.

Huw Powell, head of Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff, said the jab would keep pupils in school.

"I think anything that allows pupils to remain in school, anything that allows them to avoid the disruption that we've seen for them in the last 18 months, it is a positive thing," he told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

The UK's chief medical officers (CMOs) have recommended that healthy children should be offered a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

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Head teacher Huw Powell says anything that keeps pupils in school is positive

Earlier the UK government's joint committee for vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) said there was not enough benefit to warrant it on health grounds alone - but they said ministers could take other factors into account.

The CMOs concluded this tipped the balance given the virus was going to keep spreading over the winter.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales Breakfast, Mr Powell echoed Dr Atherton's opinion that getting vaccinated should be a choice.

"This is a conversation to be had between youngsters and their parents, if this is an offer where they feel it is appropriate for them," he said.

"As a school anything that keeps pupils in school is positive and we'd like to see it occur.

"We need the pupils in school, they need to be there, they need to be educated."

But he said the school would respect the choice of any child or parent who decided against getting the vaccine.

Teachers' union NAHT Cymru said it was "inappropriate" to expect pupils to have "complex conversations around topics such as consent" in relation to vaccines.

'Protecting those around us'

Image source, Siân-Elin Melbourne
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Siân-Elin Melbourne says her son has already had the jab - and her daughter wants the vaccine to avoid missing any more school

Siân-Elin Melbourne, a councillor and teacher from Cardiff, has a 14-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son.

Her son has already had a jab and the family have discussed the importance of having the vaccine.

"As a family we felt we needed to have the jab. My husband is a diabetic so it was really important that we put things in place to protect him. We've got elderly relatives as well.

"It's not just simply looking at protecting ourselves, it's protecting all those around us. We have a responsibility to ensure that we're doing that."

But she said it was ultimately her daughter's choice whether she would have the vaccine.

Ms Melbourne added: "The biggest thing for her is she doesn't want to miss any more school. If she can ensure by having this injection that she's not going to be having to take time off school, then that's certainly a benefit for her."

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The head of Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff says pupils could be vaccinated on the school grounds

Mr Powell said many of his staff at Mary Immaculate have had the vaccine, which had been "very positive in keeping people in school".

He said he would be happy for pupils to be vaccinated on the school grounds, and that the school's 800 pupils need "to get back to some kind of normality".

"They've had 18 months of huge disruption to their education," he added.

"We're at some kind of normality at the moment. Anything that maintains that and builds on that is always going to be positive."