A VACCINE plan for children is due to be announced TODAY – with parent parents to find out if their child is eligible.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi will give parliament an update on how the rollout will work at 3.30pm.
Earlier today he already confirmed that children aged 12 to 17 will be vaccinated – but only if they are in a vulnerable group, or live with someone who is.
Meanwhile The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are still reviewing evidence around vaccinating all over-12s.
Because of this, the only children who will get the vaccine universally at this stage are 17-year-olds who turn 18 in less than three months.
Experts yesterday warned the UK won’t reach herd immunity unless children under 16 in Britain – who account for one in five of the population – are fully vaccinated.
Professor Neil Ferguson – dubbed ‘Professor Lockdown’ – said it was “inevitable” teens would need the jab.
“In the absence of vaccinating it’s inevitable that we’re going to have very high numbers of cases in teenagers, and we will not be able to reach herd immunity without significant immunity in people under 18,” he told the BBC.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which approves medicines and vaccine for use in the UK, greenlighted the Pfizer jab for 12 to 15-year-olds in June following trials, but more data on the impact on younger children is still needed.
Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca are expected to hand in their findings from ongoing trials later this year.
Scientists are concerned the vaccine may compromise the developing immune system of younger kids.
On top of that, different age groups may need different doses, further complicating the roll out.
Experts are also split on whether it’s better to allow kids to catch Covid-19 given how little risk they have of suffering from severe symptoms, and instead allowing them to build their immunity naturally.
Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said the government would be “looking carefully” at the JCVI’s advice today.
“We will be looking carefully at their advice when we receive it – we expect it very soon – on whether or not we should open up the vaccine programme in the first instance to those children who are just short of their 18th birthday, to those children who have particular vulnerabilities and those children who are in households where there are people who are particularly vulnerable.
“That seems a sensible way for us to proceed, but ministers will have to make that decision when they are armed with the final advice from the JCVI.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The Government will continue to be guided by the advice of the JCVI, and no decisions have been made by ministers on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered Covid vaccines.”
FREEDOM DAY GOES AHEAD
This comes as UK Covid deaths are a fraction of what they were in previous waves, prompting the government to push ahead with Freedom Day plans.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that, despite a rise in cases, the seven-day rolling daily death rate is just 40, compared to 654 on December 26 when infection rates were about the same.
And from Monday, people will be able to visit as many family and friends as they like while social distancing rules and the legal requirement to wear face masks will be scrapped.
But the Government warned it was ready to reimpose lockdown if the third wave becomes “unacceptable”.
Deaths have dropped slightly from the 26 recorded a week ago but remain above the 15 reported a fortnight ago.
A further 740 people were hospitalised in the past 24 hours – an uptick on last Sunday’s figure of 585, and well above the 460 recorded on July 4.
In more positive developments, a further 67,217 Brits received their first dose of the vaccine yesterday, bringing the total number of people to receive their first jab to 87.9 per cent of the population while 68.3 per cent have received two.