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U.K. To Soon Roll Out Covid Vaccinations For 16 And 17-year-olds

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation stopped short of making the move last month, saying it was still assessing the benefits and risks

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

UNITED KINGDOM: The U.K. government is expected to soon roll out the Covid vaccinations for all 16 and 17-year-olds. 

Whitehall sources say ministers in England are expected to approve the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), following an announcement on Wednesday.

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In a move that the government announced this week, about 1.4 million teenagers in that age group will be recommended vaccinations before they return to schools and colleges in September.

Also Read: China Battles Largest COVID-19 Outbreak

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Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “With the JCVI apparently about to give the green light to vaccinating 16-year-olds, ministers need to ensure plans are in place to roll out this vital next stage of vaccination while ensuring parents have all the facts and information they need.”

The announcement comes after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday that she was “hoping” to receive updated advice from the JCVI on the Covid vaccination for 16 and 17-year-olds.

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She said on Tuesday: “We are waiting on JCVI advice. When I say ‘we’, I am obviously referring to the Scottish government – but the U.K., Welsh and Northern Irish governments are in the same position.”

Decisions on vaccinations are followed by recommendations from the independent JCVI. Ministers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each then approve the plans.

Talks of vaccination for 12-year-olds

In the U.K., only the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab is currently authorised for under-18s. Last month, the JCVI extended its recommendation on Covid jabs to children aged over 12 with underlying conditions or living with others at high risk.

However, it re-considered the decision as it examined reports of rare adverse events such as inflammation of heart muscles among young adults, saying it would not extend the roll out.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty ahead of the July decision said the JCVI were confident vaccines would protect children to a high degree, considering that children do not tend to suffer severely from Covid and experts shall make sure that the benefits of the jab outweigh any potential risks.

Sturgeon on Tuesday also said that the UK’s four chief medical officers had written to the JCVI, hoping for them to eventually offer the vaccine to children as young as 12. 

All over-18s have now been offered a vaccination against coronavirus. The latest government data shows 88.7% of people in the UK have now had one dose of vaccine, while 73% have had two jabs.

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