VULNERABLE kids over 12 and those on the cusp of 18 are now allowed to get jabbed.
They will only be offered Pfizer, and must fit into a number of specific categories.
Kids over 12 with specific conditions will be offered a Covid jabCredit: AFP
Children at increased risk of developing serious Covid will be offered the jab, the JCVI recommended today.
This includes kids aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
Also now allowed to be vaccinated are 12-17 year olds who live with immunosuppressed people, and anyone three months away from their 18th birthday.
It is thought the number of children who fit into these groups are in the hundreds of thousands, and would have their first dose within weeks.
Experts made the recommendation for them to be protected, saying the health benefits of jabs in children do not outweigh the potential risks.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi this afternoon said the vaccine programme would now help protect more of the most vulnerable in society.
Addressing MPs he said: “The steps we are taking today means we will be offering even more vulnerable people the protection vaccines bring and we will all be safer as a result.”
It comes as:
Zahawi explained that the protection given by vaccines has built up in people across the UK.
“This means the ratio between cases and hospitalisation is the lowest it has been during the pandemic”, he added.
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Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair of the JCVI, said: “The primary aim of the vaccination programme has always been to prevent hospitalisations and deaths.
“Based on the fact that previously well children, if they do get Covid-19, are likely to have a very mild form of the disease, the health benefits of vaccinating them are small.
“The benefits of reducing transmission to the wider population from children are also highly uncertain, especially as vaccine uptake is very high in older people who are at highest risk from serious Covid-19 infection.
“We will keep this advice under review as more safety and effectiveness information becomes available.”
Invitations should come through each child’s GP, who will have many of them on their lists as vulnerable.
No child under 12 is able to be jabbed at the moment, as there is no licence in place for kids below that age, but this could change.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said he accepted the recommendation from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – with the NHS readying to rollout more vaccines.
He said: “Today’s advice does not recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at this point in time.
“But the JCVI will continue to review new data, and consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date.
“Covid-19 vaccines have saved almost 37,000 lives and prevented around 11.7 million infections in England alone.
“They are building a wall of defence and are the best way to protect people from serious illness. I encourage everybody who is eligible to get their jabs as soon as they can.”
Almost all children and young people are at very low risk from Covid. Symptoms, when seen, are typically mild and fewer than 30 children have died from the virus in the UK as of March 2021
Experts yesterday warned the UK won’t reach herd immunity unless children under 16 in Britain – who account for one in five of the population – are fully vaccinated.
Professor Neil Ferguson – dubbed ‘Professor Lockdown’ – said it was “inevitable” teens would need the jab.
“In the absence of vaccinating it’s inevitable that we’re going to have very high numbers of cases in teenagers, and we will not be able to reach herd immunity without significant immunity in people under 18,” he told the BBC.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which approves medicines and vaccine for use in the UK, gave the green light for the Pfizer jab to be used on 12 to 15-year-olds in June following trials.
But the JCVI wants to be sure it’s safe for millions who don’t have health conditions.
Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca are expected to hand in their findings from ongoing trials later this year.
Scientists are concerned the vaccine may compromise the developing immune system of younger kids.