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Covid UK: Children will be jabbed from early next week

The chief medical officers of the four home nations are looking at the societal and educational benefits of vaccination

Teenagers could be vaccinated from as soon as next week despite a refusal by scientific advisers to recommend the move.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided yesterday not to back the mass immunisation of children aged 12-15, saying the benefit to their health did not outweigh the risks enough.

However, the JCVI said the decision should ultimately be made by the chief medical officers (CMO) of the four home nations.

They have now been asked to look at the wider non-health benefits, such as whether vaccination of teenagers would reduce disruption to their education.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty is said to be in favour of vaccination, and is enlisting senior doctors to provide him with evidence of the harm done by coronavirus to children’s school attendance and mental health, which will strengthen the case for pressing ahead.

Ministers hope that he and his counterparts in the devolved administrations will report next week.

Multiple reports say the CMOs are widely expected to give the move the green light.

Last night, a Government source told the Mail that jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds was still ‘very much on the table’.

16 year old festival goer Lottie Beard getting a vaccine jab at a walk-in Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue. Picture date: Thursday August 26, 2021. PA Photo. NHS England said more than half a million 16 and 17-year-olds have had their first dose. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus Reading. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Chief medical officers are expected to give the green light to vaccinating 12-15 year olds (Picture: PA)

Sources also told The Times there is a ‘sense of optimism’ among ministers that vaccination can begin soon after secondary schools go back, with the NHS told to be ready to begin the programme immediately after the recommendation.

Although the sources stressed that the review is independent and not a foregone conclusion, they believe it will find few new downsides of vaccination.

One minister went further, telling The Times they thought the announcement would be a formality and that jabbing youngsters could begin in days.

The JCVI said yesterday that it would only recommend vaccines for children with underlying health conditions.

It said that as Covid is only a mild illness for the vast majority of young people, the benefits of getting the jab only ‘marginally’ outweighed the risk of side effects.

Members were worried that the vaccines did sometimes lead to heart inflammation, which can have unknown long-term consequences.

The JCVI also said that the vaccination of a million teenagers would prevent only two admissions to intensive care for Covid, which was ‘too small to support advice on a universal programme of vaccination of otherwise healthy 12 to 15-year-old children’.

However, members considered only the direct health benefits to children and acknowledged that ministers might want to take ‘wider societal and educational impacts’ into account

Children aged 12-15 with severe learning disabilities and immune weaknesses were already eligible for the jab.

About 200,000 more children who have a wider range of health problems, including severe asthma and heart, lung and neurological conditions, will be now be offered vaccination following the JCVI’s recommendation.

The Pfizer and Moderna jabs have been approved by the medicines regulator for over-12s.

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

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