Covid jabs ‘will be offered to 16 and 17-year-olds before schools return in September’
- Ministers want to give jabs to children for if medical experts say it’s safe to do so
- Plans would see all students aged 16 and 17 offered a vaccine in August
- Source said it can ‘only be a good thing’ to cut virus transmission among teens
Young people aged 16 and 17 are to be offered a coronavirus vaccine before they return to school after the summer holidays, it has been reported.
According to The Sun, ministers want to give jabs to children for the first time if medical experts say it is safe to do so.
With a new Freedom Day target of July 17, Downing Street reportedly wants to offer all A-level and college students aged 16 and 17 a vaccine in August before they go back to school in September.
However, it comes after experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are understood to have raised ‘serious ethical concerns’ about inoculating children because of the tiny risk they face of becoming seriously ill.
Young people aged 16 and 17 are to be offered a coronavirus vaccine before they return to school after the summer holidays, it has been reported. Pictured: Maisie Ayres, aged 18, receives a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an NHS Vaccination Clinic at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in north London on Sunday
Ministers want to give jabs to children for the first time if medical experts say it is safe to do so
The JCVI was reportedly set to urge No10 to hold off jabbing under-18s in the immediate future and wait for more safety data to come out of the US and Israel, where the plans are already in motion.
But a Whitehall source told The Sun that if the JCVI does approve vaccinations for younger age groups, the Government has the ‘capacity and willingness’ to offer them vaccines.
‘Late teens are some of the most socially active members of society so if we can cut that transmission, it can only be a good thing,’ they added.
Yesterday, hundreds of people queued to get a jab at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in north London as the vaccine programme was opened up to people aged 18 to 20.
More than 700,000 Covid-19 jabs were booked in one day through the national booking service on Friday which equated to 30,000 an hour or more than eight every second.
NHS England said this does not include appointments made through local GP-led vaccination services, or people getting jabbed at walk-in centres.
Tottenham was just one of the London football clubs offering a pop-up vaccination centre for young people in the area along with West Ham, Chelsea and Charlton Athletic.
Everyone aged 18 and over is being urged to arrange a jab if they have not yet had one, as the health service enters the final push to protect the country against the virus.
Public Health England said there has been a 79 per cent rise in one week in cases of the Delta variant, first identified in India, with the increase being driven by younger age groups.
There is reportedly enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to protect all teenagers before the end of August.
But there are no plans to force young people to have a jab.
Government data up to June 19 showed that of the 73,766,593 jabs given in the UK so far, 42,964,013 were first doses – a rise of 280,241 on the previous day.
Some 31,340,507 were second doses, an increase of 236,363.
The news about 16 and 17-year-olds getting the jab comes after it emerged that Number 10 want more data on risks before expanding the rollout to younger age groups.
According to The Telegraph, the JCVI will urge No10 to hold off jabbing under-18s in the immediate future and wait for more safety data to come out of the US and Israel, where the plans are already in motion.
With a new Freedom Day target of July 17, Downing Street reportedly wants to offer all A-level and college students aged 16 and 17 a vaccine in August before they go back to school in September
Cabinet minister Liz Truss this morning said No10 would look ‘very closely’ at advice from the panel, which has helped steer Downing Street through the pandemic.
Meanwhile, one of the Government’s senior scientific advisers today warned of the ethical dilemma posed by vaccinating children — who face a one-in-a-million risk of dying from coronavirus.
SAGE’s Professor Calum Semple, an expert in outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said he is against vaccinating the 14million children in the UK.
Meanwhile, children’s campaigners, who have raised opposition to any mandatory vaccination programme for school students, today said they were ‘very reassured’ by the news.
But experts are divided on the topic, with some insisting it would help deal with the Indian variant.
A Whitehall source told The Sun that if the JCVI does approve vaccinations for younger age groups, the Government has the ‘capacity and willingness’ to offer them vaccines
Pfizer’s jab has already been approved for 12- to 15-year-olds by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
But it hasn’t yet been deployed in the UK because ministers haven’t given the green light to expanding the roll-out. Professor Chris Whitty this week hinted that children could get vaccines to stop the virus disrupting their education.
Pfizer’s jab is already being used on children in the US — but concerns are mounting that it may be linked to heart damage in young adults.
Some 226 myocarditis and pericarditis cases have been reported in the US following Pfizer and Moderna shots, mostly in men with an average age of 24.