Children Aged 12 to 15 to be Offered COVID-19 Vaccine in England

Children aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Sept. 13.

“I have accepted the unanimous recommendation from the UK Chief Medical Officers to offer vaccination to those aged 12 to 15. This will protect young people from catching COVID-19, reduce transmission in schools, and help keep pupils in the classroom,” Javid said.

Those in the age group will be offered the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine primarily through a schools-based vaccination program, the government said.

A second dose will be offered when more evidence is gathered, which will not be before the spring term, according to a letter sent from the UK CMOs to Javid.

Parents will be asked to give consent for their children to get the vaccine. However, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that children could override their parents who do not want them to get the shot if deemed “competent.”

The announcement comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunization (JCVI) said that it would not recommend vaccinating children in the age group on health grounds alone.

Earlier this month, JCVI issued advice earlier this month that the margin of benefit for vaccinating health 12- to 15-year-olds at this time was “too small.”

However, JCVI’s COVID-19 Subcommittee Chair Wei Shen Lim said in a press conference on Sept. 13 that he did not feel “undermined” by the CMOs going further than the panel.

“It’s not for JCVI to either agree or disagree with their decision because that’s a next step along the way,” Lim said.

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