Covid jabs for 16 and 17-year-olds ‘could be approved in days’

Labour has said the government must have a plan to roll out coronavirus vaccines to the age group.

Covid jabs for 16 and 17-year-olds ‘could be approved in days’ iStock

Labour has said the Government must have a plan to roll out coronavirus vaccines to 16 and 17-year-olds following suggestions experts were about to approve the move.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “veering towards expecting” the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) would soon outline updated guidance for young people having the coronavirus jab.

Speaking to MSPs on Tuesday, Sturgeon had suggested the decision could come as soon as Wednesday.

She said: “We are waiting on JCVI advice. When I say ‘we’, I am obviously referring to the Scottish Government, but the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments are in the same position.”

Sturgeon said the four chief medical officers across the UK had written to the JCVI asking them to look again at vaccination advice for young people.

She said: “First, as a priority, I am particularly hopeful that we will see updated recommendations for 16 and 17-year-olds.

“I am hoping for – possibly veering towards expecting – updated advice from the JCVI in the next day or so.”

The JCVI has so far ruled out the mass vaccination of healthy children, but under existing guidance young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious Covid infection should have already been offered a jab.

Children aged 12 to 15 with certain conditions which make them vulnerable to coronavirus can also access the vaccine, as can those aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person, such as a parent or grandparent.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said secondary school pupils will still be required to wear masks when schools return even if Covid vaccinations are extended to 16 and 17-year-olds.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, he said: “I do hope that that is the position we hear from the JCVI today, we have been pressing for that, and have made a strong case.

“Obviously we’ll take that very forward really very swiftly to make sure we can make early progress on that.

“And working on a four nations basis about vaccine supplies we will obviously make the quickest progress we possibly can do.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty previously said there was a balance to be struck between vaccinating young people who do not tend to suffer severely from the virus, and ensuring their lives were not disrupted.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “With the JCVI apparently about to give the green light to vaccinating 16-year-olds, ministers need to ensure plans are in place to roll out this vital next stage of vaccination while ensuring parents have all the facts and information they need.”

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