Oxford launch ground-breaking research into vaccinating teenagers

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Oxford University has launched research into the effect of various second vaccine doses on 12 to 16 year olds. The Chief Investigator, Professor Matthew Snape, said it “will provide vital information on the range of options for immunising teenagers against COVID-19 in the UK”. They are searching for 360 volunteers; you can find more here.

In addition to studying giving teenagers two full Pfizer jabs, the Com-COV 3 study will look into the effect of giving teenagers half the second jab, or mix-and-match vaccines: Moderna and Novavax. They will be funded by the Vaccines Taskforce and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Professor Snape says that it “will provide the JCVI [Joint Commission on Vaccinations and Immunisations] with information crucial to informing their advice about immunising teenagers in the UK.” They are looking at side effects and immune system responses.

This follows two other Com-COV studies looking into the best combination of vaccine doses focusing on adults. The hope is to report initial results by December, to inform future vaccine roll-out. Currently, teenagers are only receiving the first Pfizer dose. This is in part due to worries about various side effects in teenagers: especially myocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s outer walls) and pericarditis (irritation of the tissue around the heart).

Life Science Researcher, Bill Berners-Lee, said: “the risk of myocarditis in 12 to 15 year olds after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine outweighs the benefit from reduction to risk of hospitalisation from coronavirus – especially boys.” In short, it might be safer not to give teenagers the second Pfizer jab.

The research will give more information about this situation to inform the JCVI’s decision-making.

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