BRITISH teens can now get the Pfizer Covid vaccine – as the jabs rollout speeds on to beat the variants.
The UK’s medicine regulator MHRA has approved use of coronavirus shots for youngsters, in a bid to get as many people protected as possible.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
It comes as fears the Indian variant and a mutated version of the strain, dubbed the “Nepal variant” will force June 21’s “Freedom Day” to be delayed.
Teens aged 12 to 15 will be able to sign up to get a Pfizer vaccine when their slot comes to get jabbed.
Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive said: “We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.
“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved COVID-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12- to 15-year age group.
“No extension to an authorisation would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.
“It will now be for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise on whether this age group will be vaccinated as part of the deployment programme.”
It comes as:
It comes as the UK is at the “start of a Covid epidemic in the young”, according to data, and hotspots threaten the lockdown lifting on June 21.
As millions of people under 30 wait for their jab, infections are spreading rapidly, according to new data.
Prof Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College London who leads the ZOE study, said: “The data highlights that the increase is happening in the younger age groups, suggesting the start of an epidemic in the young.
“We can’t be too complacent, and we are monitoring things closely.”
Israel started giving out vaccines to kids in January, and the US rolled out Moderna to 12-15 year olds in May.
NHS plans leaked to The Sun revealed British kids as young as 12 could get Covid jabs when schools reopen.
Ministers have secured an extra 60 million doses of the Pfizer jab to ensure there are enough to cover children as part of an autumn immunisation blitz.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the NHS will be “ready” to jab youngster if given the green light.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had asked in the Commons: “Is it time to look at vaccinating the over-12s as they are doing in the US?”
Mr Zahawi replied: “We will operationally be ready, but ultimately the decision has to be a clinical one.”
It comes after an expert warned people under the age of 21 may be more vulnerable to the Indian coronavirus variant.
Prof Neil Ferguson, Imperial College London, revealed there is a “signal” in the data that it’s spreading quicker among younger age groups.
Speaking at a German press briefing, he said it is not clear if this is because the variant has a biological advantage.
Instead it may be a result of the environment – for example, younger people are not vaccinated.
“There’s a hint in the data that under-21s are slightly more likely to be infected with this variant compared with other variants in recent weeks in the UK”, Prof Ferguson said
And infections fell by 93 per cent after just one dose.
The “exciting” result suggests the jab is highly effective at stopping Covid transmission.
Prof Russell Viner, at UCL, said the Moderna results are “encouraging”, adding it shows mRNA jabs appear to be as effective in teens.
“mRNA vaccines appear to be broadly safe in teenagers, with both Moderna and Pfizer reporting no safety concerns,” he said.