Safety of COVID-19 vaccine for children: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

  1. A copy of all correspondence including the then First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, relating to the decision to offer COVID-19 vaccines to children under the age of 16 in Scotland. The vaccine was originally advised NOT to be given to children by the JCVI, but the Government(s) at Holyrood and Westminster would over-rule this decision – including a letter that was signed by the CMO of Scotland, Gregor Smith.

    Please provide any and all correspondence relating to the change in this policy decision, including correspondence with the CMO Gregor Smith, National Clinical Director Jason Leith, then Health Secretary’s Jeane Freeman and Humza Yousaf and any other public health advisors – such as the Deputy CMO and Public Health experts including but not limited to Devi Sridhar and Linda Bauld.
  2. In relation to the above, please provide copies of any relevant reference papers or studies that were used by the Scottish Government to inform their decision to change the advice on promoting the COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 16.


I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

On 3 September 2021 JCVI published a statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 12 to 15 years, stating that The margin of benefit, based primarily on a health perspective, is considered too small to support advice on a universal programme of vaccination of otherwise healthy 12 to 15-year-old children at this time. The statement can be found here: JCVI statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 12 to 15 years: 3 September 2021 - GOV.UK (

On 3 September 2021 UK Health Ministers (Sajid Javid MP, Eluned Morgan AS/MS, Humza Yousaf MSP and Robin Swann MLA) wrote to UK Chief Medical Officers regarding the vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 15 requesting that they consider the matter from a broader perspective as suggested by the JCVI. This letter can be found here: Letter from UK health ministers to UK CMOs on COVID-19 vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds: 3 September 2021 - GOV.UK (

On 13 September 2021 UK Chief Medical Officers responded to the letter from UK Health Ministers recommending on public health grounds that ministers extend the offer of universal vaccination to all children and young people aged 12 to 15. This letter can be found here: Universal vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 15 years against COVID-19 - GOV.UK ( Former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and former Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf accepted this advice from UK Chief Medical Officers: Vaccinations for 12 -15 year olds - (

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and (ii) (free and frank advice and exchanges of views), 30(c) (prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs), 36(1) (legal advice) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained in Annex A to this letter.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI - 202300353460 - Annex A
FOI - 202300353460 - Attachments 1-3


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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