The NHS has drawn up plans to offer Covid vaccines to children as young as 12 when schools return, in a sign Britain is edging towards routinely jabbing youngsters.
NHS England bosses yesterday told trusts to be ready to expand the roll out to 12 to 15-year-olds in just two weeks’ time as scientists warned the virus will ‘rip through schools’ unless pupils are immunised before the new term.
But some scientists have said it would be better in the long run for children to catch Covid naturally and build up immunity from an early age.
Children would not need parental consent to get the vaccine under the new plans, health officials told The Telegraph.
Figures show that, despite schools being out for summer, secondary-aged children are fuelling the third wave of infections along with older teens and young adults. There are fears there could be an explosion in cases when classrooms go back next week.
Britain’s medical regulator, the MHRA, has already said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective for the age group.
But the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) — which advises No10 on jabs and is separate from the MHRA — is yet to green light to the plans.
It claims the small risk of side effects may still outweigh the benefit due to the fact young children are very unlikely to be badly ill with Covid.
Leaked emails reveal NHS trusts in England have until 4pm on Friday to have plans in place for the rollout in children.
All 16 and 17-year-olds are already being invited for the Pfizer vaccine and don’t need permission from a parent or guardian to get one.
But only under-16s who live with vulnerable people or who have immune weaknesses themselves are being invited at present.
Read more: NHS England draws up plans to start vaccinating children as young as 12 in two weeks WITHOUT their parent’s consent