Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said Number 10 is awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI), which assesses whether all young people aged 16 and over 17 years are expected to receive the vaccine, and that an announcement would be made “shortly”.
The policy change was first mentioned by Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon Tuesday as she announced that the Scottish government and the UK, Welsh and North Irish governments are “in the same position” pending updated recommendations for 16 and 17 year olds “in the coming days”.
“We haven’t announced this, what we are doing is awaiting the announcement from JCVI,” Ms. Donelan told Sky News.
“At each stage of the pandemic we have adopted their advice on this, of course they are the experts when we determine the deployment of the vaccine and we will await their imminent announcement shortly. “
She then clarified: “We are waiting for the comments from JCVI, then we will update accordingly, so we have not really changed our mind, there has been no policy announcement, we are waiting for this announcement. of JCVI which we expect shortly, then we will make an announcement. “
The vaccine is already available for children 12 years of age and older if their medical condition puts them at a higher risk or if they live with an immunocompromised person.
Ms Donelan did not respond whether parental consent could be required for teens to accept the offer of a jab.
And insisted on whether 18 to 30 year olds could be offered cash incentives to get vaccinated, she added that “everything is on the table.”
The expected move comes as NHS data as of July 25 shows more than 220,000 children in England have already received a COVID-19 vaccine.
the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in children aged 12 to 17
But there has been a significant debate over whether younger people should be offered the jab.
Some scientists say it would prevent further disruption to schooling over the next school year, but other people have suggested that – since children are at a lower risk of getting serious illness from the virus – it wouldn’t. beneficial.
Minister of Vaccines Nadhim Zahawi announced in the Commons in July that people under the age of 18 with certain health conditions or living with an immunocompromised person would be eligible for the jab.
This, he said, would also include those approaching their 18th birthday.
Zahawi noted at the time that the vaccine experts advising the government, the JCVI, maintained the option of offering the vaccine to children under constant scrutiny.
The JCVI previously said in July that “the minimal health benefits of providing universal COVID-19 vaccination to children do not outweigh the potential risks” because the coronavirus rarely causes serious illness in children without underlying health problems.
Symptoms are “generally mild” in children, the JCVI said, and as of March 2021, fewer than 30 children had died from the virus.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React program, said children should be vaccinated if given the chance to be, as an upsurge in infections until mid-July was ‘driven’ by people. younger.
“It is clear that what is important now is that many people who are offered the opportunity to get vaccinated should do so,” he told Sky News.
Speaking about the React study, which tracked infection in the population, he added, “The highest infection rates were in the 13-24 age group, and the increase we have seen up to. ‘in mid-July were driven out of these young people.
“As you say, there is a suggestion that maybe the 16 and 17 year olds will be offered the vaccine, in which case I think it’s important that people accept that if they are offered. “
React study co-author Steven Riley added that the latest results from the program “support” the extension of the immunization program to 16 and 17 year olds.
And Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said allowing younger people to receive coronavirus injections would be good news.
Ministers are expected to endorse the JCVI opinion which recommends that healthy adolescents aged 16 and over be offered the opportunity to be vaccinated as early as Wednesday.
Shadow Environmental Secretary Luke Pollard told Kay Burley that vaccinating 16 and 17 year olds is a “good idea” if it reduces the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.
“It is currently taking place all over the world in a safe manner and if it increases the resilience of our nation and reduces the number of people facing long hospitalization or COVID, I think it is a good idea”, a- he said on Sky News.