Trends in SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination in school staff, students and their household members from 2020 to 2022 in Wales, UK: an electronic cohort study

Emily Lowthian, Hoda Abbasizanjani, Stuart Bedston, Ashley Akbari, Laura Cowley, Richard Fry, Rhiannon K Owen, Joe Hollinghurst, Igor Rudan, Jillian Beggs, Emily Marchant, Fatemeh Torabi, Simon de Lusignan, Tom Crick, Graham Moore, Aziz Sheikh, Ronan A Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objectives: We investigated SARS-CoV-2 infection trends, risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination uptake among school staff, students and their household members in Wales, UK.
Design: Seven-day average of SARS-CoV-2 infections and polymerase chain reaction tests per 1000 people daily, cumulative incidence of COVID-19 vaccination uptake and multi-level Poisson models with time-varying covariates.
Setting: National electronic cohort between September 2020 and May 2022 when several variants were predominant in the UK (Alpha, Delta and Omicron).ParticipantsSchool students aged 4 to 10/11 years (primary school and younger middle school, n = 238,163), and 11 to 15/16 years (secondary school and older middle school, n = 182,775), school staff in Wales (n = 47,963) and the household members of students and staff (n = 697,659).
Main outcome measures: SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination uptake.
Results: School students had a sustained period of high infection rates compared with household members after August 2021. Primary schedule vaccination uptake was highest among staff (96.3 but lower for household members (72.2, secondary and older middle school students (59.8, and primary and younger middle school students (3.3. Multi-level Poisson models showed that vaccination was associated with a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The Delta variant posed a greater infection risk for students than the Alpha variant. However, Omicron was a larger risk for staff and household members.
Conclusions: Public health bodies should be informed of the protection COVID-19 vaccines afford, with more research being required for younger populations. Furthermore, schools require additional support in managing new, highly transmissible variants. Further research should examine the mechanisms between child deprivation and SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-424
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Volume116
Issue number12
Early online date22 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • COVID-19
  • schools
  • social restrictions
  • pandemic
  • population health

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