Mother makes 800-mile trip to Italy so daughter, 9, can get Covid jab

Mother makes 800-mile roadtrip to Italy from Kent so that her nine-year-old daughter can get a Covid vaccine

  • Alice Colombo drove for 13 hours with daughter to Italy so she could get jabbed
  • Ms Colombo, originally from Milan, said she would rather risk vaccine than virus
  • Most children under 12 are ineligible for vaccine in the UK but can get it in Italy 

A British mother took a 13-hour road trip to Italy with her nine-year-old daughter so she could get the Covid vaccine, saying she was ‘much happier to gamble on that’ than with the virus.

Alice Colombo made the 800-mile journey to Milan with her child, who has dual Italian citizenship, in the car to avoid mixing on planes and public transport.

Her daughter is currently ineligible for a jab in England as it is currently only available for vulnerable children under the age of 12.

So Ms Colombo, from Maidstone in Kent, made the lengthy road trip to protect ‘the most precious thing in the world to me’.

Alice Colombo took a 13-hour road trip to Italy with her nine-year-old daughter so she could get the Covid vaccine. Pictured: A child receives Covid-19 vaccine in Italy (file pictured)

What are the risks of Covid and vaccines to children?

Covid

Most children only experience mild symptoms after being infected with Covid.

Just one in 300,000 children who test positive for Covid die, according to UK Government data.  

And the risk of being hospitalised and getting admitted to ICU is similarly low.

But the risk is higher to children with serious underlying conditions. 

The JCVI has yet to release its updated guidance on vaccinating children aged 11 and under, but is understood to be ‘urgently’ reviewing data, with a decision expected before Christmas.

But its latest advice on recommending first jabs to over-12s suggested one Pfizer dose only prevents 131 hospital admissions per million 12-15-year-olds.

And second doses only prevent nine hospital admissions for every million dished out to the age group. 

The figures are likely to be less for five- to eleven-year-old, who are less vulnerable to the virus. 

Previously, the JCVI said the use of vaccines for healthy children could not be recommended on the bases of health alone. 

However, as more data has become available on the use of vaccines on the age group in the US, and the emergency of the Omicron variant, the benefits have become more compelling. 

Vaccines 

Myocarditis — an ultrarare form of heart inflammation — is the main side effect of the Pfizer vaccine that concerns experts. 

Data shows the risk is slightly higher in adolescents than adults, particularly in boys.

The JCVI has not released data on how many cases are expected in children aged five to 11 but studies show children in younger age groups are less at risk than teenagers.

It found myocarditis cases in between 2.6 to 17.7 million first vaccine doses in children aged 12 to 15.

And the condition was found in between 20.9 to 42.2 children in the age group per million second doses dished out.

She told BBC South East: ‘I’d much rather as a parent run the risk of getting my daughter a vaccine that we know a fair amount about and that has been very safely rolled out in a number of different countries.

‘Over eight million children in her age group have now received at least a first jab and the reported side effects have actually been far lower than in the adult population.

‘I was much happier to gamble on that than to take pot luck with a virus about which we know very little – particularly about its long term effects.

‘We know far more about the vaccine and its safety than we do about the virus itself.

‘This is something that is continually mutating and each mutation brings slightly different symptoms. We have very, very little data on the long term effects of this.

‘Why would I not give protection to the most precious thing in the world to me, my daughter, rather than run the risk of her turning round to me in five, 10, 15 years’ time, saying ‘Mum, I’ve got heart problems, I’ve got brain problems, I’ve got lung problems, why didn’t you do all you could at the time to protect me’?’

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 in November.

The majority of children in that age group are deemed to be at very low risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus.

But that didn’t stop the United States, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Spain, Greece and Hungary rolling out jabs for the youngsters.

Ms Colombo, who works in public health herself, criticised the UK Government for not following suit and vaccinating children to help stop Covid spreading through schools.

She added: ‘I think we’re not doing enough to mitigate the spread, per say, particularly in schools and in primary schools, we can do significantly more in terms of prevention.

‘Sometimes this debate gets presented in a very binary fashion. People who are in favour of increased measures, like me, would favour a lockdown. Absolutely not.

‘I want my daughter in school but I want her in school safely. I feel incredibly, incredibly sorry for all those other parents who share my opinion and would like to get their children vaccinated.’

In Italy, acrobats dressed as superheroes rappelled down the walls of a hospital in Milan as the city prepared to join the new vaccine rollout. 

Wearing capes and bodysuits, they stopped to greet patients through the windows at a pandemic ward and other children at a pediatric wing.

Meanwhile, doctors at the San Gerardo Hospital in the city of Monza donned hats and colourful fancy dress as they began their vaccine drive. 

In Italy, acrobats dressed as superheroes rappelled down the walls of a hospital in Milan as the city prepared to join the new vaccine rollout last month. Wearing capes, they stopped to greet patients through the windows at a pandemic ward and other children at a pediatric wing

Ministers say further advice regarding vaccination for five to 11-year-olds will be issued in due course after considering scientific data.

Two doses are currently being offered to 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK ‘to give them the best protection against COVID-19’.

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