The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said older teenagers should get inoculated in a move that will see a further 1.4 million young people eligible for the jab
Doctors have branded the vaccine rollout for teenagers as “shambolic” and said they have been “left in the dark” about the plans.
It comes after it was announced that Covid jabs will be offered to 16 and 17-year-olds.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said older teenagers should get inoculated in a move that will see a further 1.4 million young people eligible for the jab.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid accepted the JCVI recommendation and has asked the NHS to prepare to start giving first doses to youngsters “as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam appeared to hint that vaccine eligibility could go even further and may be rolled out to children as young as 12 in future.
In response to the expansion of the jabs rollout the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) blasted how it had been handled.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH President and consultant neonatologist Dr Camilla Kingdon said in a statement: “The roll-out of the vaccine programme for adults has been incredibly impressive but, for children and young people, it has been frankly shambolic.
“This is the second announcement around vaccinations for children or young people in the last three weeks but we still haven’t seen detailed plans for roll-out of the first.
“Once again, paediatricians have been left completely in the dark about how and when children and young people will be invited for vaccination.
“There has been no information to parents and none to young people themselves and that creates confusion and, for some families, real worry.
“Our members are constantly being asked questions by young people or their parents for which they don’t have the answers because the systems aren’t in place and the detailed advice has not been provided.
“In England, at least, the national booking system for COVID vaccinations is still not taking bookings for anyone under the age of 18, more than two weeks after the ministerial announcement.”
The move to vaccinate older teens comes after a decision last month to only vaccinate children over the age of 12 with certain health conditions or youngsters who live with someone who is immunocompromised.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has already approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 and over.
The Pfizer jab is being used in children in other countries at present.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 Chair for JCVI, said: “After carefully considering the latest data, we advise that healthy 16- to 17-year-olds are offered a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Advice on when to offer the second vaccine dose will come later.
“While Covid-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and for this particular age group, we expect one dose of the vaccine to provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.”