12-year-olds ‘to get Covid jab from August’

Ministers are said to be drawing up proposals to roll out the vaccination programme in schools from as early as August (Picture: Getty/Reuters)

Children as young as 12 could be offered the Covid vaccine from August under plans to tackle the spread of the Delta variant, it has been claimed.

Whitehall is said to considering extending the vaccine rollout to some secondary school pupils as the health secretary said a ‘huge proportion of the latest cases are in children’.

A Government source told The Telegraph that ministers hope to start vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds by the second half of August or early September at the latest.

Ministers are awaiting the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) before making a final decision.

However, it is understood that insiders expect the JCVI – which helps the Government develop immunisation programmes – will recommend the vaccine for younger teenagers.

The plans come after the Pfizer jab was approved for children aged between 12 and 15 in the UK on Friday.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) concluded that the jab ‘is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk’.

Officials are preparing to roll out the vaccine in schools at the start of the next academic year, but should the JCVI approve plans in the coming weeks, ministers expect plans to be brought forward to August.


One JCVI official said ‘ethical issues’ remain around whether to vaccinate schoolchildren (Picture: Getty)

Public Health England’s (PHE) latest data shows outbreaks of the Delta variant – or the Indian strain – in schools trebled in the last two weeks of May.

Children aged 10 and above account for more than a quarter of recent Covid cases, according to PHE, while the Office for National Statistics’ figures for the week to May 19 show the number of cases rose fastest in pupils in years 7 to 11.

Writing in The Telegraph, the health secretary said: ‘A huge proportion of the latest cases are in children, so it’s especially important all secondary school-age children take a test today before going back from half term tomorrow, and isolate if positive – to stop the spread and protect the education of their peers.’

Mr Hancock earlier said there are ‘plenty of good reasons’ to give Covid jabs to children – though he acknowledged it is ‘very rare’ that they are affected ‘very negatively’ by the virus.

He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: ‘The spread among children does have an impact on others and, critically, we know how much it disrupts education as well.

‘There is this problem of long Covid in some children who test positive.’

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‘We know that the vaccine both protects you and helps you stop transmitting, and I want to protect education as much as anybody does … and so making sure that we don’t have those whole bubbles having to go home, especially as we saw over the autumn for instance, that has upsides for education,’ he added.

Professor Anthony Harden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said there are ‘ethical dilemmas’ around giving children the jab.

He said the benefits of vaccinating pupils are more for those they could pass the virus onto.

Prof Harden told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think the vast majority of benefit won’t be to children, it will be an indirect benefit to adults in terms of preventing transmission and protecting adults who haven’t been immunised, for whatever reason haven’t responded to the vaccine, and therefore that presents quite a lot of ethical dilemmas as to whether you should vaccinate children to protect adults.

‘We need to be absolutely sure that the benefits to them (children) and potentially to society far outweigh any risks.’

‘There is the other wider ethical issue of whether you vaccinate children in this country or whether you donate that vaccine internationally to low and middle income countries where they still have an at-risk adult population that haven’t been vaccinated,’ he added.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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