WHEN I look at my 15-year-old son I see big changes in him from the little boy who used to say to me: “Where you go, I follow.”

Like many boys his age, he is less chatty now, although he regularly fires off questions more easily answered by scientists or legal minds than his mum and dad.

But, even at almost six feet tall, I see a child who has been through educational disruption, days of isolation at home, and lack of contact with his chums.

Now a new dilemma is facing parents as we learn that more than half of the countries in Europe are planning to roll out their Covid vaccination programmes to children aged 12 and over. The question of whether we in this country follow hangs in the balance, with experts weighing in on both sides.

On the one hand, Nicola Sturgeon’s adviser, Professor Devi Sridhar of Edinburgh University, says that giving vaccines to schoolkids is the next vital step in controlling transmission, as Scotland rides the crest of a third wave driven by the Delta variant.

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Professor Sridhar made the point that although there have been some rare cases of side effects in this age group, no child has died from taking the vaccine.

The other side of the argument is that while the risks of Covid in this age group are unknown, the benefits are relatively small as youngsters are much less likely to suffer severe illness and death from the virus. In fact, the chance of dying from coronavirus is less than two in a million in those aged 19 and under.

Allowing children to catch Covid and build their immunity may be better than exposing them to the risk of vaccines, according to Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which has been asked to draw up advice for ministers about whether those aged between 12 and 18 should be vaccinated.

A lot to consider. But in the end, the decision will be in the hands of parents like me of children aged 12-15. Low risk of possible side-effects including myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscles – reported in adolescents receiving the jab in the US are meaningless words when your own child could be one of the unlucky few.

I was delighted and relieved to get my double jab as the risks of being seriously ill outweighed any concerns about the newness of the vaccine. But when it comes to my 15-year-old son, I don’t see why he should run the risk of as yet unknown side effects in order to suppress infection among the largely vaccinated adult population.

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I’m by no means an anti-vaxxer – my son had all his jabs when he was younger, including the MMR vaccine during the lingering concerns over its suspected links to autism.

I remember being challenged by a rabid anti-vaxxer during a rare evening out at a restaurant. She grilled me about vaccinating my baby and declared I’d committed child abuse, no less, by ensuring he didn’t catch measles, mumps or rubella.

I was infuriated but too polite to start a barney or point out that these diseases along with small pox, diphtheria and polio, were once the cause of disfigurement, disability and death among children in living memory, and are now virtually eradicated thanks to vaccines. But there’s no arguing with stupid, so I changed the subject.

I heartily despise the dangerous anti-vaccination movement, spreading disinformation that has already been the cause of a resurgence of measles, and is now fuelling vaccine hesitancy and undermining the delivery of the near-miraculous coronavirus vaccines.

But, but … even with my rational, looking at all the science and weighing up the facts and figures head on, I’m hugely troubled and worried about my son possibly having the Covid vaccine.

I’ll keep reading the science in reliable news sources I consider trustworthy, but I can’t see how it would ever be ethically right to put our kids in danger for adults’ sakes – including those who saw fit to throw all semblance of caution to the wind to watch football.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.