Nadhim Zahawi to unveil plan on limited extension of Covid vaccine to children

Nadhim Zahawi to unveil plan on limited extension of Covid vaccine to children
Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation handed recommendations to ministers on Monday

The vaccines minister will today announce to MPs whether the government has approved a limited extension of Covid-19 jabs for teenagers after receiving recommendations from an independent body.

Nadhim Zahawi revealed the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had delivered its advice on the vaccination of over-12s on Monday, which will be considered at a imminent meeting of the government’s Covid-0 committee.

Speaking on Sky News, the minister said he will later deliver an update to Parliament, but suggested the vast majority of children will not be offered a vaccine until further evidence is available.

“Suffice to say they’ve looked very closely, especially at children, who are more vulnerable to serious infection from Covid, children who live with adults who are more vulnerable to serious infection from Covid and 17-year-olds who are close to becoming 18 — three months from their 18th birthday — and we will take that advice on board.

Questioned on why the vaccine will not be extended to all children, he replied: “The JCVI are continuing to review that.

“There’s now emerging data of all children being vaccinated in America and elsewhere with a first dose. Not yet enough data with a second dose so they want to look at all the data.”

The MHRA medical safety watchdog gave the green light for teenage jabs on 4 June, and Boris Johnson is coming under mounting pressure to offer them protection as the Delta variant tears through younger age groups.

But the JCVI is expected to recommend limiting jabs to those who are deemed vulnerable to Covid-19, or who live with adults who are immunosuppressed or otherwise at severe risk from the disease, as well as to 17-year-olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday.

Mr Zahawi also insisted he is “confident” the government was doing the “right thing” by ending the vast majority of Covid restrictions despite surging infections and a stark warning from international scientists.

The vaccines minister stressed, however, that he would continue to wear a face covering in crowded indoor public areas, despite Boris Johnson dropping the legal requirement for the public to do so in England.

His remarks came as the government allowed nightclubs to reopen for the first time in 16 months, scrapped social distancing guidelines and removed limits on indoors gatherings in the final stage of the roadmap.

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