Health Minister Safid Javid has confirmed that second Covid-19 vaccines will be rolled out to students aged 12 to 15 after the discovery of the new Omicron variant.
A decision has been announced on plans to vaccinate the youngest pupils “probably” by Christmas.
In addition, the booster vaccination program – which currently targets people over the age of 40 – will be open to all adults over the age of 18.
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The announcements come as case rates among five to nine-year-olds are rising sharply, along with those aged 10 to 19, and amid concerns that the new Covid-19 variant may be more transmissible. .
WHO chief John Ryan said it was “highly likely” that an assessment of whether Pfizer would be approved for children up to five years old would be completed before Christmas.
Dr. Ren, CEO of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said the evaluation of giving an injection to children aged 5 to 11 was already very advanced.
“The application of the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 years will be evaluated very carefully as expected – for safety and efficacy at the suggested dose and quality,” she said at a press conference in Downing Street today.
This “meticulous assessment” was due to be completed before Christmas because “we have allowed the vaccine to be used for children at risk from very early on and have collected a certain amount of safety data in this population”.
She added: “So, in terms of the time frame: very likely before Christmas but we don’t know until we look closely at all the data.”
The government has failed “a lot” in introducing the vaccine from 12 to 15 years
The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization) published advice today on extending the rollout of the vaccine. The Committee advised that children aged 12 to 15 years should be given a second dose 12 weeks after the first dose, and the booster should be extended to all persons over 18 years of age.
Health Minister Sajid Javid told the House of Commons today that he accepted this advice.
But he faced criticism in the year from Dr Rosina Allen Khan, the shadow mental health minister and Labor MP for Tooting, who said “the government’s flip-flopping of masks has created confusion in schools, colleges and universities”.
Dr Allen Khan also said the government had “failed greatly in achieving its target of providing the vaccine to all 12-15-year-olds by mid-October” and questioned what action would be taken to speed up the rollout.
as is yours Revealed last week, vaccination uptake among 12-15-year-olds remains very low in some areas, with less than a third of high school students vaccinated in 46 local authorities.
Mr Javid said the government had just embarked on a “huge” expansion of vaccine rollout, with more decisions to be made in the coming days.
Jeff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the plans for 12- to 15-year-olds, but he “strongly urged” Government to ensure that the health service has the capacity to fulfill this obligation.
He said, “The program to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to children aged 12 to 15 years is experiencing delays because the health teams responsible for going to schools and delivering the vaccines did not have sufficient resources to be able to do so. Do this with the scale and speed required.”“
More teachers to get reinforcements
Kevin Courtney, Joint Secretary General of the National Education AssociationHe said that extending the vaccination program would “Allowing adults working in schools and colleges to get their reinforcement much earlier than expected, and allowing high school-aged children to get quicker to their next jab.”
He also repeated calls made by his union earlier today for guidance on face coverings to apply to high school classrooms as well as in public areas, and for all close people to be told to isolate at home.
“We should already hear a clear and loud message from the prime minister that regular testing is essential if we are to keep the countdown to the case,” he added.