The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) could give permission for youngsters to get Covid vaccinations imminently and ministers are awaiting further advice
The NHS is “ready to hit the ground running” with Covid vaccines for children aged 12 to 15 with a decision expected soon on whether they will be approved for kids.
Health authorities are getting ready to expand the vaccine rollout in case the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) gives the green light.
A decision has yet to be taken regarding giving jabs to this age group and the JCVI has yet to advise on expanding the rollout to youngsters.
But the experts recommend that 12 to 15-year-olds should be offered the vaccine as “we need to be ready to hit the ground running”.
Vaccinations would be given in schools and parents’ consent “will be sought”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The department added: “No decisions have been taken on the universal vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds and ministers have not received further advice from the JCVI.
“But if the JCVI recommends that 12 to 15s should be offered the vaccine, we need to be ready to hit the ground running and start those vaccinations as soon as possible.
“That is what parents across the country would rightly expect us to do, to keep their children safe.”
“The MHRA has already said that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are safe and effective for 12 to 17-year-olds,” the DHSC said, adding: “No decisions have been taken on the universal vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds and ministers have not received further advice from the JCVI.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Throughout the pandemic the Government has planned ahead so we can respond to changing circumstances and move quickly to offer the life-saving vaccine to the people who need it most.
“That is why, while I await updated advice from JCVI on the 12 to 15 cohort, I have asked the NHS to make preparations – should they be needed – to rollout the vaccine to this group.
“We’ve seen excellent uptake in the younger cohorts already, as people continue to do everything they can to protect themselves, their family and their communities.”
The NHS is preparing to deliver a school-based programme that will be supplemented with other delivery models where necessary to ensure full coverage across the country, the DHSC said.
If a decision is taken to vaccinate this cohort, the DHSC said communications will be issued to schools asking them to support the vaccination effort if needed, for example by making space available in the schools or enabling children to take time out of lessons to travel to vaccination sites.
The DHSC said that in the event that the JCVI recommends Covid-19 vaccines should be offered to those aged 12-15, parental or carer consent will be sought.
“This is no different from any other school vaccination programme,” the department said.