WHO and Unicef urge countries to vaccinate children over 12 with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of COVID-19 infection
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef said on August 30 that teachers and school staff should be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccinations so that schools in Europe and Central Asia can remain open.
In a statement, the UN agencies said that measures to ensure schools can remain open amid the pandemic situation “include offering teachers and other school staff the COVID-19 vaccine as part of target population groups in national vaccination plans”.
It was important to continue uninterrupted classroom-based learning despite the spread of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, stressed WHO and Unicef, with WHO’s European region director Hans Kluge saying, “This is of paramount importance for children’s education, mental health and social skills, for schools to help equip our children to be happy and productive members of society. The pandemic has caused the most catastrophic disruption to education in history.”
The statement further added that the recommendation -- already made by a group of WHO experts in November 2020 before the vaccination roll-out -- should be done “while ensuring vaccination of vulnerable populations”.
The agencies urged countries to vaccinate children over the age of 12, who have underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
It also mentioned the importance of measures to improve the school environment during the pandemic, including better ventilation, smaller class sizes, social distancing and regular COVID-19 testing for children and staff.
According to the WHO’s recommendations released in early July, testing of children in risk groups who display COVID-19 symptoms should be a priority.
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