The British government will roll out coronavirus vaccines to youths nearing their 18th birthday and some 12-15-year-olds, with the door open to expanding the programme to younger children later in the year.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which shapes the Boris Johnson administration’s vaccine policies, made the recommendations, which have been announced in the House of Commons by government vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi — with the JCVI reportedly open to recommending the vaccine more youngsters once the results of short-term Pfizer trials on children as young as two are announced.
The official line from the Department of Health and Social Care, headed by Sajid Javid MP, remains equivocal as of the time of publication, however, with a spokesman saying only that “The Government will continue to be guided by the advice of the JCVI, and no decisions have been made by ministers on whether [all] people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered Covid vaccines.”
AstraZeneca is also running trials on children aged six to 17 which are expected to return results by the end of the year, although at present their vaccine is not recommended to under-40s by the JCVI in most cases due to what the government describes as the “extremely small risk of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia”.
Britain’s medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has only approved the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15-year-olds at this time.
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“We will be looking carefully at [the JCVI] advice when we receive it – we expect it very soon – on whether or not we should open up the vaccine programme in the first instance to those children who are just short of their 18th birthday, to those children who have particular vulnerabilities and those children who are in households where there are people who are particularly vulnerable” Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government, had said in comments to Sky News on Sunday.
“That seems a sensible way for us to proceed, but ministers will have to make that decision when they are armed with the final advice from the JCVI,” he added.
With the technocratic body now having recommended the vaccine be rolled out to exactly those people, it seems ministers had a fairly good idea of what that final advice would be prior to its official publication.
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