By Vinay Prasad
It is always instructive to highlight differences in the vaccination policies between nations. After all, the clinical trials that guide these decisions are the same across nations.
Yet, different experts can view the same risk-benefit decisions differently, or view uncertainty differently. In my mind, there is clearly a problem if one nation advises AGAINST doing something while another location MANDATES it. I think we should all agree that this makes no sense. One should not deploy the brute force power of the mandate if a decision is sufficiently debatable that another nation literally advises against it.
This already happened with LA County’s mandate for 2 doses for teens 12-15. I detailed how LA’s school mandate was in tension with UK and Norway’s guidance with respect to number of doses and timing of doses in the US News and World Report.
Now, we see it again. The UK’s expert body JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) is moving forward with vaccinating 5 to 11 year olds with underlying health conditions, who are at risk, but not all healthy 5 to 11 year olds.
When it comes to healthy 5 to 11 year olds this is what JCVI is waiting for:
All quite reasonable, if you ask me!
Now, contrast the UK with the US.
New Orleans has already moved ahead and mandated vaccination in 5 to 11 year olds. And the AFT president has said she stands behind such mandates. New Orleans policy goes into effect February 1.
The penalty for non-compliance with these mandates will likely be exclusion from in person schooling. That penalty is far harsher than the risk of sars-cov-2 in a healthy unvaccinated child, which is very low. The best data for that is the new Germany paper.
Can we at least acknowledge how crazy it is that one nation DOES NOT RECOMMEND something while another nation MANDATES IT to attend something as basic and necessary as grade school?
In 2019, in the wake of poor uptake of MMR (a vaccine with far less disagreement & far more uncertainty) UNICEF wrote:
It is a shame we cannot live up to that standard now. Our fear has overtaken our compassion and sense.