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Parents 'should tell teens to get vaccinated' if jabs for over-16s approved


The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to recommend vaccines for older teenagers

The vaccine programme looks set to be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds
The vaccine programme looks set to be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds

Parents have been told to encourage teenagers to get vaccinated if experts go ahead with recommending Covid jabs for 16 and 17-year-olds.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the Government on the jabs programme, is expected to green light vaccines for older teenagers shortly.

More than a million young people would be newly eligible for the jab if the decision goes ahead, which comes amid fears over the spread of the virus in younger age groups.

Existing rules say only some under-18s are eligible for a jab, such as those with certain health conditions or youngsters who live with someone who is immunocompromised.

Universities minister Michelle Donelan said the advice was expected “imminently” and issues such as parental consent would be considered.








Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said the JCVI advice was expected to come ‘imminently’
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Image:

Western Daily Press)



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She told TimesRadio: “Obviously, if the JCVI did announce that 16 and 17-year-olds could go and get the vaccine, that we were going to roll it out, I would strongly encourage parents to encourage their children to do so because we know that the vaccine is the route out of this.

“There was a study announced just today from Imperial College London, which shows that if you’re double vaccinated, you’re half as likely to contract Covid, let alone mitigating the symptoms if you do.

“So it really is the route out of this pandemic.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon first revealed that older teenagers could become eligible for the jab, with sources later saying Boris Johnson was likely to accept the advice from the JCVI.

Experts said jabbing 16 and 17-year-olds could cut transmission of the virus and reduce the widespread disruption in schools.

Imperial College London professor Steven Riley, said: “Our data would support that in that we’d expect there to be a really good knock-on effect from extending the vaccinations for that group.”





Offering a vaccine to children age 12 and over “would also reduce transmission”, he added.

“What we should probably think about is September, October, November: how much immunity can we have in order to hopefully keep prevalence going down, so there is justification in extending those vaccinations down.”

Professor Paul Elliott, director of Imperial’s React programme, said: “The big increase in the virus was being driven by these younger age groups, so anything we can do to reduce transmission in that group would be helpful.”

Teaching unions also welcomed the move, saying it would reduce disruption to schooling.

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said: “If this is one way we can get rid of that disruption I think we will see a great sense of a lot of young people, not all, but a lot of young people thinking, ‘Actually, I’m going to have the vaccine, just like my mum or my dad has’.”

He added: “Anything that gives the reassurance to young people that they are being treated in the way that the adult population is and that their education won’t be disrupted to the extent it has been – that has to be welcomed.








Pupils have had a tough 16 months of juggling learning in and out of classrooms (file photo)
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Image:

PA)



“I’m sure many parents, with their youngsters, will think at last we’re starting to give a real sense of priority to young people’s education.”

The National Association of Headteachers said schools should not be given responsibility for promoting or enforcing a jabs policy.

General secretary Paul Whiteman said: “To the extent that any such policy is controversial it is clear that schools should not carry any responsibility for vaccination promotion, enforcement or policing.”

He added: “As ever, it will be a matter of public confidence in whatever these measures are deemed to be, so the government also has a duty to communicate carefully and clearly in order to avoid any more unnecessary disruption and missed education for pupils.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to keep the vaccination of children and young people under review and will be guided by the advice of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.”









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