UK to Offer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to All 16- and 17-Year-Olds

The government in the United Kingdom announced on Aug. 4 that it will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to all 16- and 17-year-olds in the next few weeks.

The decision came after a recommendation from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI).

“While COVID-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and for this particular age group, we expect one dose of the vaccine to provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalization,” Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 Chair for JCVI, said.

Currently, the government only offers the vaccine to those living with vulnerable people or to those with underlying health conditions within the age group.

The change in guidance means that about 1.4 million teenagers in the UK will be eligible for the vaccine and they will not need parental consent to get vaccinated.

According to England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam, the vaccine rollout for the age group will begin in “a very short number of weeks,” which will coincide with the reopening of schools.

“There is no time to waste in getting on with this,” Van-Tam.

JCVI has yet to determine the interval between the first dose and the second dose. They said that they will make further recommendations based on the response to the first dose.

The vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech is the only vaccine currently approved for those aged under 18 years.

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