The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation looks set to approve the Covid-19 jab for anyone over 15 as First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon suggests it could be within days
Children aged 16 and 17 could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the time the schools go back in England.
News that the jab looks set be approved for anyone aged over 15 by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in days was first revealed by Nicola Sturgeon.
Boris Johnson is, according to sources, expected to accept health chiefs advice set to be published on Wednesday that new evidence makes the case for jabbing youngsters aged 16 and 17.
The rollout of jabs expected to affect 1.5 million teenagers is expected to take place later this month.
The Scottish First Minister said: “I’m hoping, possibly veering towards expecting, updated advice from the JCVI literally in the next day or so. I very much hope that expectation will prove to be the case.
“I am hoping, but this is the JCVI’s advice, they will recommend further vaccination of the 12 to 18-year-old age group.
“But I’m particularly hopeful we will see some updated recommendations in relation, as a priority as a first part of this, for 16 and 17-year-olds.”
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Most Scottish schools go back on August 16, while in England and Wales the new term starts in the first week in September.
Speaking to MSPs on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon had suggested the decision could come within days.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We are waiting on JCVI advice. When I say ‘we’, I am obviously referring to the Scottish Government, but the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments are in the same position.”
Ms Sturgeon said the four chief medical officers across the UK had written to the JCVI asking them to look again at vaccination advice for young people.
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Labour ’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “With the JCVI apparently about to give the green light to vaccinating 16-year-olds, ministers need to ensure plans are in place to roll out this vital next stage of vaccination while ensuring parents have all the facts and information they need.”
Experts have been divided on whether risks of vaccinating kids outweigh the benefits, as they are unlikely to fall seriously ill if they catch coronavirus.
The JCVI has so far ruled out the mass vaccination of healthy children, but under existing guidance young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious Covid infection should have already been offered a jab.
Children aged 12 to 15 with certain conditions which make them vulnerable to coronavirus can also access the vaccine, as can those aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person, such as a parent or grandparent.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty previously said there was a balance to be struck between vaccinating young people who do not tend to suffer severely from the virus, and ensuring their lives were not disrupted.
Speaking in June, Professor Whitty said: “You wouldn’t want to vaccinate unless the vaccine is very safe, and vaccines are now being licensed in some countries and we are accruing safety data on the safety of these vaccines in children.”
The US and France are among nations vaccinating children from the age of 12.
A further 21,691 coronavirus infections were recorded yesterday, with the rolling seven-day average down 20.5%.
But there were 138 deaths, the highest reported daily total since March 17.