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14th September 2021, 20:37

Opposition parties clash over the Government's decision to offer vaccines to 12 to 15 year olds

The GSD says there is "no indication so far" that the rollout of vaccines to 12-15 year olds in Gibraltar is necessary to ensure educational stability or to ensure the spread of COVID is minimised.

It says the decision on whether non-vulnerable teenagers in this age bracket should have the vaccine is ultimately a choice for parents and children.

Together Gibraltar has responded, describing the GSD's statement as a shameful attempt to pander to anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists - pointing out that the Government has not suggested forcing vaccines on children without parental consent.

The GSD says it notes the Government's decision to start offering the vaccine to all 12 to 15 year olds.

It says the Government did not mention the fact that the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has not recommended that 12 to 15 year olds be vaccinated against COVID, and that neither has the World Health Organisation.

It says the scientific recommendations illustrate there has been insufficient research on the effects of the vaccine on children, and that there would be a marginal health benefit in having it. Opposition Leader, Keith Azopardi, said it might have been better to wait for further scientific recommendations.

However, Together Gibraltar says the GSD has provided incomplete information and inaccurate statements.

It says while the GSD cites advice from the JCVI, it omits the fact that the four UK Chief Medical Officers unanimously recommended vaccination of this age group after considering this advice. Together Gibraltar adds that the GSD also refers to "long-term effects" of the vaccine on children, describing this as a "biological implausibility".

It says the GSD's statement is dangerous and cynical electioneering, arguing that being able to enact public health policy swiftly and effectively is the most important tool to protect citizens until the virus can be eliminated.