TWO hundred years ago, when a bloke called Edward Jenner proved he could protect children from smallpox by infecting them with lymph from a cowpox blister, his critics called him a madman.
Today, those critics would be (loud and) proud anti-vaxxers. After lurching from one poor decision to another over the past 16 months, the one thing the Government has got right is its exemplary jab rollout.
So why, when other European countries — as well as the US, Canada and China — are vaccinating their own under-18s, are we hesitating?
Obviously there is no long-term data about the possible risks, or otherwise, of dosing up children. But this is a virus still in its invidious infancy.
Yes, 12 to 16-year-olds are less vulnerable to the virus but there are still some very real risks. And, crucially, they can spread it.
If they do get it, they are more susceptible than adults to Long Covid. They are also more at risk of potentially life-threatening Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), a condition that apparently results in severe swelling of various organs and tissues.
Scientists have long been warning that fully unlocking the country with only a partially immune population is a recipe for disaster — with the emergence of new, ever more dangerous variants.
As Tony Blair pointed out this week, we need the Government to publish the comparative data around Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna so everyone can see how effective they are — and get some reassurance in these uncertain times.
The last time I wrote about the link between AstraZeneca and blood clots, I pointed out that more people died every year from falling coconuts than a jab.
I was promptly bombarded with anti-vaxx hate mail, plus several kindly people expressing their hope that I, too, get felled by a coconut. Arguably, kids have suffered more than most.
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Presumably the suggestion we now vaccinate our young will be met with even greater levels of vitriol. And possibly a coconut in the post.
At present we are relying on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to deliver its verdict on jabbing the young. Until then, only the most vulnerable of under-18s are likely to get their doses.
Yet last month, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (catchy) authorised the Pfizer jab for 12 to 15-year-olds, concluding it was “safe and effective”, adding the “benefits outweigh any risks”.
In May, American paediatric infectious diseases doctor Judith Guzman-Cottrill identified a link between myocarditis, an inflammation around the lining of the heart, and patients aged 12 to 29 receiving the Pfizer or Moderna jabs.
Despite this, she decided to get her 13-year-old daughter — who has a history of autoimmune diseases — vaccinated because she concluded the protective benefits of vaccination far outnumbered any potential dangers.
Children need to be protected if we aren’t to hit the forecast 100,000 daily infections sooner rather than later. Arguably, kids have suffered more than anyone in this pandemic.
Withdrawn from school and their mates, almost every aspect of their development has been cruelly stunted. Let them get jabbed — and get their childhoods back.
Oldies all the r-age
CONGRATULATIONS to Britain’s oldest graduate, Archie White.
A former solicitor from Hastings, East Sussex, he’s received a degree in fine art at the age of 96 years and 56 days.
Archie – who retired at 92 – is yet another example of how age, increasingly, is just a number.
Just look at Harrison Ford, 79, currently filming Indiana Jones; Diana Ross, 77, back with a new album; Anne Robinson, 76, the recently unveiled host of Countdown; Paul McCartney, 79, about to release a documentary; and Joe Biden, 78, busy Presidenting.
80 is the new 40.
No tills thrills
MORRISONS is testing a store without tills, whereby customers can bypass self-checkout.
I’d drive HOURS out of my way to shop here if it meant avoiding the faff of self-service or/and being routinely food-shamed.
Without fail, I’m forced to “please wait for assistance” as a massive red beacon flashes above my head and a (human) assistant then painstakingly types in 430 numbers to approve my rosé/bananas/aubergine/literally anything phallus-shaped.
What a waste
AS a teenager, I’d spend hours on the landline discussing boys, teachers and Hooch-fuelled parties.
Now, like most of my generation, I’d sooner self-isolate with Nicola Sturgeon than conduct an actual phone conversation.
Instead, my friends and I spend huge swathes of time leaving WhatsApp voice notes back and forth.
When, in reality, a ten-minute phone chat would be so, so much quicker.
PM has to be in office
FREEDOM Day, and where was Boris Johnson? Sitting at home in his John Lewis M&S plaid pyjamas, saying: “Sorry, Rishi, I think you’re on mute,” and contemplating sporadic bouts of Joe Wicks-led star jumps.
No one wants their Prime Minister WFH on one of the most symbolically important days of the year.
As the figurehead of our fightback against Covid, the double-jabbed PM – who has already had the virus – should have been allowed to take a test and go into No10.
Instead, he’s fallen foul of his colleagues’ “do as we say, not as we do” complacency.
Without Cummings’ eyesight test, Hancock’s a***-squeeze, Gove’s Champions League jaunt and Prof “Lockdown” Ferguson’s affair then, just maybe, he could have embarked on the workplace pilot scheme.
As it is, he had no alternative but to make yet another humiliating U-turn and join the masses at home.
Symbol of time
FORGET The Guardian – there’s a new comprehensive Guide To Being Woke.
Worried about offending someone? Don’t be. A quick scroll through your phone’s emojis and you’re covered.
According to a draft list published by the Unicode Consortium, which approves those little yellow (or white, or mixed race, etc) icons, a pregnant man and a multi-racial handshake are the latest emojis to be actioned.
These come hot on the (gender neutral) heels of a bearded lady, non-binary royal (“person with a crown”) and single-parent emojis.
Use one incorrectly at your peril.
Pressure women face
PHOTOS of the Sex And The City women filming last week said everything you need to know about the pressure put on women in Hollywood.
While Cynthia Nixon, to her credit, has let her hair go grey, the other two – Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis, both 56 – look terrifyingly unchanged.
Doubtless the result of nothing more than soap and water . . .
AS Freudian insults go, they don’t get much worse than this.
Waddling (apparently) behind a woman at work the other day, the lady responsible for pressing the designated lift buttons instructed her to get into: “Lift E for ‘echo’.”
Seconds later, as I approached, she calmly directed: “E for ‘elephant’, please.”
He's got to be off his troll-ey
THAT two Olympians, at the peak of physical fitness, are regularly body shamed says all you need to know about the state of social media today.
Synchronised swimmers Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe train for 40 hours a week and, as a by-product of such dedication, look amazing.
Yet some 20st waster in Wigan reckons they are: “Too manly.”
Well, I know who I’d rather see in my local pool.
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