Schools have been given the go-ahead to roll out the Pfizer vaccine to all 12 to 15-year-olds, following a recommendation from the chief medical officers. Will parents have to give permission? And what do we know about the side effects of the vaccine for young people?
All UK children aged 12 to 15 will be offered a Pfizer jab, it has been announced.
Next week, three million school children will be offered the Covid vaccine, which will be given to them at their schools.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) carried out research into the benefit of giving all 12 to 15-year-olds the vaccination.
The JCVI found the virus posed a very low risk for healthy children so vaccination would only offer a marginal benefit.
However, the JCVI only advise from a clinical perspective, whereas the Government and chief medical officers consider the wider impact.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the JCVI, said there was “no conflict” between their recommendation and the Government’s decision.
After assessing the JCVI research, the chief medical officers led by Dr Chris Witty made the recommendation to the UK Government that all 12-15 year olds should be offered the vaccine.
Today, Health Secretary Sajid Javid made the announcement that the vaccine roll-out will take place in schools.
This measure is hoped to prevent further disruption from pupils taking time off because of catching covid, or needing to self-isolate.
Schoolchildren will be given the first dose of the vaccine, which is around 55 percent protective against catching Covid. A decision will be made on offering children the second dose later on.
However, the child – as long as they are capable of informed consent – will have the final decision on whether or not they get the jab: even if their parents have said no, Professor Whitty said.
What are the side effects of the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds?
During the Downing Street briefing, Dr June Raine from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said the side effects for 12 to 15-year-olds being vaccinated are “mild”.
A rare side effect named myocarditis – a swelling of the heart – is being researched as a side effect of the Pfizer vaccine.
One study has suggested the risk could be slightly higher in male teenagers.
In the UK, the MHRA has documented six cases of myocarditis in every million double-jabbed patients.
What other countries are giving the vaccine to young people?
The US has offered the vaccine to all children over the age of 12, as well as many countries in the EU.
France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands have already started vaccinating children.
China is aiming to have all under-17s vaccinated by October.
Will children under the age of 12 be vaccinated?
According to Prof Whitty, there are “no plans at the moment” to vaccinate children under 12.