The Education Secretary ramped up pressure on vaccine experts to approve jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds, saying parents would find it ‘deeply reassuring’
Gavin Williamson has said parents would find it “deeply reassuring” to have the choice to get their children vaccinated as he piled pressure on vaccine experts.
Mr Williamson said he hoped the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) would give the go ahead to jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds.
All 16- and 17-year-olds are being offered a vaccine but under 16s are only offered a jab if they are in certain groups – such as the clinically vulnerable or those who live with adults who are at risk of serious illness.
Mr Williamson told the BBC: “I think parents would find it deeply reassuring to have a choice of whether their children should have a vaccine or not.
“We obviously wait for the decision of JCVI. Probably a lot of us are very keen to hear that and very much hope that we’re in a position of being able to roll out vaccinations for those who are under the age of 16.
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“I would certainly be hoping that it is a decision that will be made very, very soon.”
He said he could not give a timeline for when the decision is expected as the JCVI is an independent body.
“They will reach a decision, I’m told and I understand, very, very soon,” he said.
In a round of interviews, Mr Williamson insisted there were enough jabs to inoculate youngsters and roll out a booster programme.
“We’ve got the capacity to be able to deliver vaccinations for children as well as deliver a booster programme – so it’s not either/or,” he told Sky News.
“It’s a situation about making sure we combat this virus as best as possible and we’re ready.
“If we get the get-go from JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) we’re ready – the NHS, which has been so successful in rolling out this programme of vaccination, is ready to go into schools and deliver that vaccination programme for children.”
Deputy JCVI chairman Professor Anthony Harnden said the idea was “under a lot of active consideration”.
“There’s many, many arguments for and against giving vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds, and we’re deliberating on what we think as a committee is best for children,” he told Today.
“And that is the key thing: whatever we decide, we will do it in the children’s best interests no matter what other people outside the committee think.
“And we will come to a really, really strong decision about our advice.
“Now of course it is up to ministers as I say to make decisions, it’s not up to JCVI, but we will give some very strong advice.
“But there are very strong arguments for vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds, and there’s some arguments against as well and it’s very finely balanced.”
It comes as the Government announced that 500,000 Brits with compromised immune systems will get a third dose of the vaccine.