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Two shots for teens push was against medical advice

In brief

  • Government records show Cabinet misled the public on decisions they made about Covid vaccinations for young people.
  • Expert advice on risks of vaccine injuries were hidden from the public.
  • This put young people at risk and violated the legal and medical principle of informed consent.

Political interference in covid vaccine advice for teens

Publicly available minutes of Cabinet and committee meetings show Cabinet did not follow the advice of medical experts regarding Covid vaccination of teenagers, despite saying they were. It also shows risks of vaccine injuries, presented by medical advisors, were hidden from the public. The evidence was laid out in the respected Thomas Cranmer blog on 15 and 16 January 2023.

The Covid-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group (CVTAG) consists of medical and scientific experts who provide recommendations regarding Covid vaccinations. The group recommended not vaccinating children 12-15 years old unless they had health conditions giving them a higher risk of injury from Covid. This restrained recommendation was due to children’s “lower risk of poor health outcomes from Covid-19 infection”, the lack of vaccine safety data, and because of risk of myocarditis (heart disease) in people under 30 years.

This recommendation was suddenly changed on 12 August 2021 to vaccinate all teenagers without exception, with evidence indicating this was, in Cranmer’s words, “the result of a hasty political decision that was being rubber-stamped by the advisory group.”

The record also shows a request that references to the risk of vaccines causing heart disease “be removed from communications”.

…It appears that a communications strategy took precedent over providing accurate medical advice to the public which was a necessary element of informed consent.

The request also suggests that there was a reluctance within government to fully articulate the myocarditis risk to young people…

— Cranmer

Communications also show that when then-Minister of Covid Chris Hipkins and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said they were reducing the gap between vaccine doses according to medical advice, this was false: it was actually a political decision. McElnay said there were no safety concerns with the schedule, despite CVTAG telling her their concerns on multiple occasions.

Hipkins said medical advice was followed when it wasn’t

CVTAG repeatedly advised against a second shot for teens, and their 9 December 2021 memo to Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield was their strongest-worded advice all year:

The individual risk to young people of severe disease is very low. For them to make an informed decision not to get a second dose of the vaccine eg, due to potential myocarditis risk is justified.

Surprisingly, informed decision-making didn’t feature prominently in earlier discussions, despite this supposedly being a cornerstone of medical ethics.

Either Dr Bloomfield, or Cabinet, rejected this advice, and the second shot was mandated. National’s shadow Covid Minister Chris Bishop asked Minister Hipkins whether he was aware that some countries only vaccinated children aged 12-15 with a single dose, and Hipkins replied saying the decision for a second shot was based on CVTAG advice. But CVTAG couldn’t have been any more opposed.

The public were misled, putting young people at unnecessary risk.

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