Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Huddersfield has raised awareness about vaccines, the way they are made, and how they are an essential part of healthcare strategy, and progress on future COVID vaccine developments, so people can make informed decisions about getting vaccinated or choosing to vaccinate their children.

In reference to the current controversy over why COVID vaccines for children were not approved in the UK but were in the US, and why the country was so slow in responding, Dr. Hamid Merchant of the department has published a piece clarifying why we must not hurry mass-immunizing small children or how a postponed immunisation can be helpful in providing a more suited vaccine formula for children, like the nasal COVID vaccine, that should be accepted soon.

We should not rush to a one-size-fits-all solution, especially when there is a better product available for children.” Dr. Hamid Merchant asserts

The article, ‘Why COVID vaccines for young children (5–11 years) are not necessary at this time?,’ published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, supports the UK state’s policy to not implement a mandatory mass immunisation programme and clarifies why current vaccines will not provide the best efficacy and safety outcomes among children.

“Often, public health professionals and scientists worry that openly addressing these issues will weaken vaccine uptake,” Dr. Merchant explained. “However, now that a number of vaccine products have been approved by the FDA, it is time to explain the differences between vaccine formulations and the vaccine science. “We should not rush into a one-size-fits-all solution, especially when a better product for children can come out”

The current state of things

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) of the United Kingdom Government currently recommends that COVID vaccines be made available to children aged 5–11 in the United Kingdom, but also believes that such immunisation is unnecessary.

Dr. Merchant, a pharmaceutical scientist with more than 19 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development in both academia and industry, helps explain why the Council was so careful in approving COVID vaccines for children or why its official response on the subject took a long time to be released in the article.

He also discusses how there are many vaccine choices for children that are on the verge of approval and have been specifically designed to deliver outcomes in children that existing vaccines cannot.

“We attempted to give a scientific answer about what vaccines are in general and that not every COVID vaccine is developed in the same way,” Dr. Merchant explained.

“Because there wasn’t enough information available during the initial stages of the immunisation programme, we’re assisting the public in becoming more educated when deciding what to do for themselves or their children by explaining why different vaccine formulations work differently and which ones are now the safest considering an individual’s pre-existing health issues (personalised medicines).”

Dr. Merchant believes that now that the vaccines have done their part in making it possible for the people to live with the virus, research into the next generation of COVID vaccines is critical for all who will continue to be at significant risk from future emerging variants of the disease.

“We held a series of discussions and lectures for the wider populace and healthcare professionals to increase awareness of different vaccines function, why they are such an essential part of healthcare strategy, and the current status of COVID vaccine development.” He explained, “The said journal article is part of a campaign to improve medication safety in the face of a pandemic.”

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