Scotland will be “ready to go” with a Covid vaccination programme for 12 to 15 year olds as soon as experts give the go-ahead for them to be jagged, the country’s national clinical director has said.
Professor Jason Leitch made the commitment as the First Minister urged the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to make a decision “quickly” on whether youngsters in the age group should receive the injections.
Her comments came as coronavirus cases across Scotland have soared, with a record 6835 new infections reported on Friday.
With schools having returned in Scotland earlier in August, Nicola Sturgeon stressed the importance of a decision being made on whether to vaccinate more secondary school pupils.
Teenagers aged 16 and 17 are already being given the Pfizer vaccine, in line with JCVI advice.
Sturgeon, speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, said: “I really hope that the JCVI feel that the evidence allows them very, very soon to recommend vaccination for all 12 to 17-year-olds.”
Prof Leitch added: “We are ready for when that advice comes, the vaccination programme is ready to go.”
Sturgeon said “ideally” a decision on this would have been taken in time to allow secondary school pupils to get vaccinated before going back to school after summer.
She noted: “Scottish schools go back earlier than elsewhere in the UK and I would have ideally liked that to have been the case before our schools go back, but the sooner we get to that point where the JCVI feels the evidence allows them to make that recommendation, I hope they do that quickly.
“There are many countries across the world that are already vaccinating 12 to 17-year-olds, clearly there are expert groups there who think this is safe to do.
“I suppose if I was making a plea to the JCVI, it is not for me to tell them what decision to reach, they have got to do that on the basis of the evidence, but please make it quickly.
“Because I would really like, assuming we get advice saying it is safe to do, I would really like to get on with vaccinating 12 to 17 year olds as quickly as we possibly can.”