Sixteen and 17-year-olds won’t need parental consent to get Covid vaccines, No10’s top scientists revealed today as they hinted children as young as 12 could be offered jabs later this year.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the 1.4million youngsters should be offered Pfizer jabs, marking a dramatic U-turn on guidance the same panel issued two weeks ago.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the NHS would dish out invites ‘as soon as possible’, with the goal of getting the oldest teenagers protected before they return to classrooms in September.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said there was ‘no time to waste’ and that there was ‘plentiful’ supply of the vaccines.
He also laid the groundwork for ministers to expand the inoculation drive to all over-12s in the near future, saying that the JCVI would ‘continually review’ the evidence.
There are currently no concrete plans to offer the 16 and 17 year olds second doses, with the expert panel wanting to buy more time to understand the safety risks.
Pfizer’s vaccine has been linked to a rare side effect called myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle. Data from the US, which has been giving the jab to children for months, shows the complication affects one in 100,000 teenage boys after the first dose, but this rises to about one in 15,000 after the second dose.
Boris Johnson today called on families to listen to the advice, saying that the committee was ‘among the best in the world’ and that the country should ‘take our lead from them’.
Unveiling the inoculation drive expansion in a Downing Street briefing today, Professor Van-Tam said: ‘Children are going to start going back to colleges and sixths forms from September, and in Scotland that will be slightly earlier, so there is no time to waste in getting on with this.
Read more: 16 and 17 year olds will NOT need parental consent to get ‘Covid vaccines’: 1.4million teenagers to get Pfizer jab ‘as soon as possible’ as health chiefs open door to inoculating all over-12s