Keir Starmer today insisted his 12-year-old son will get the vaccine if the rollout is approved for under-16s.
The Labour leader said he wanted younger people to get jabs ‘if they possibly can’ with the government preparing to announce a decision.
The UK’s chief medical officers are considering whether to extend vaccines to the age group with a decision expected no later than Friday.
Last week the JCVI told the Government that the virus posed such a low risk to children that the benefit to their health of immunisation would be marginal. But they did not consider societal factors such as the closure of schools sparked by the virus.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said yesterday children would be able to get the jab against their parents’ wishes.
In an interview with the Mirror today, Sir Keir suggested he would support a decision to extend the rollout. ‘Only one of our children falls into that bracket,’ Sir Keir said.
‘If the advice is for that age children to have it, we would follow that advice.’
Scientists and ministers have clashed over whether children should be offered jabs, with some arguing it would not be ethical for the UK to roll out jabs to this age group when so many at risk people in poorer countries are still not inoculated.
Others point out, however, that the world will need to live with Covid for years if not decades — so having a generation of children with natural immunity would help to prevent cases spiralling later down the line.
It comes as experts fear England will see a surge in Covid infections within days after children returned to school last week. Children should be able to overrule their parents to get the Covid vaccine, a BMA chief has claimed.
Dr David Strain said 12 to 15-year-olds have ‘enough maturity’ to decide for themselves whether to get the jab. The co-chair of the medical body added that rolling out doses to the age group could cut the spread of the virus in schools by 20 per cent.