Unvaccinated children 'could be spreading Covid' across Walsall

Walsall parents who do not want their children to be jabbed have been threatening to take their kids out of school, a police chief has said.

Some parents are threatening to take their children out of school
Some parents are threatening to take their children out of school

And health bosses have warned the amount of unvaccinated school children and young people in Walsall could be spreading Covid across the borough.

Members of Walsall’s Health and Wellbeing Board were told take up rates of the vaccine amongst 12-16-year-olds was “slow” with some schools reporting only one in three taking their jabs.

One of the issues cited is parents’ reluctance to let their children be vaccinated and even threatening to pull them out of school.

More sites for young people to get vaccinated are being set up and health chiefs are moving to assure people they are safe.

Latest figures show that, in the seven day period up to October 15, Walsall recorded overall rates of 408.1 cases per 100,000 population. The previous week saw 424.5 cases per 100,000.

But the statistics show the 10-14 year-old age group is the most affected in Walsall with rates so far reaching a high of 1,625 per 100,000 during this month.

Since the pandemic started, Walsall has 42,410 confirmed coronavirus cases and suffered 900 deaths.

Walsall Police chief superintendent Phil Dolby told Tuesday’s (October 19) meeting he had met with head teachers from schools hosting the vaccination process for children aged 12 and over.

He said in one case, only 500 pupils out of 1,500 eligible were going to take their jabs while other schools had similar numbers.

Chief superintendent Dolby said: “I do think it’s a real health issue for young people. It is appropriate for us to consider what kind of surveillance we might have around the reasons for that and what we might be able to do to address it.

“The amount of young people who aren’t being allowed by their parents to take it up, even some people saying they’ll take their children out of school.

“That leaves us with potentially a significant amount of unvaccinated young people and we need to take stock of that.”

Stephen Gunther, Walsall’s director of public health said: “It is really important to say vaccinations are our best and safest approach to reduce the viruss and its spread but, more importantly, it’s impact.

“Any 12-15-year-old please do get your vaccination. We will be running it through schools and looking at other sites and have those up and running in due course.

“The vaccination is safe, its effective and it can save lives literally. I encourage all people to continue to do that and not forget the basics of hands, face, space and fresh air.

“The uptake has been slow. Children are good spreaders and what we see is it then creeps back into the wider community.”

Councillor Stephen Craddock, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing added: “The case rates in the 11-16-year old group are off the scale really and that’s where most of the infection spreading is going on.”

By Gurdip Thandi

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