The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its advice on giving coronavirus vaccinations to children and young people in the UK. Here’s a look at which young people under the age of 18 are now eligible for the jab…
16 and 17-year-olds to be offered first dose within weeks
The Government has said that all 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK will start being offered a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine within weeks, following the latest advice from the JCVI.
Speaking on Wednesday, England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that he wanted to “proceed as fast as is practically possible”, citing the return of young people to sixth forms and colleges in the near future.
It is understood that young people will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the JCVI has said that it expects one dose of this to give 16 and 17-year-olds around 80% protection against hospitalisation. For now, just one dose of the vaccine is being recommended for this age group, with more details about potential second doses yet to be announced.
Vulnerable young people aged 12-15 are also eligible for the jab
Children over the age of 12 are already eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine if they have certain health conditions, or if they live with someone who is high risk.
At present, children under the age of 12 are not eligible for the jab in the UK.
Should young people get the vaccine?
Almost all children and young people are very unlikely to become seriously ill or die from coronavirus. However, some young people can still become ill from the virus and some are being hospitalised. Young people can also unknowingly spread the virus to friends, families and other adults – this is less likely (though still possible) after vaccination.
Overall, it is thought to be very unlikely for young people to experience any serious negative effects of taking the vaccine, with the vaccines approved as safe by the JCVI.
The decision to vaccinate more young people has been seen by some as controversial. Some have argued that more vaccines should be offered to less developed countries where vaccination rates are much lower – while others have claimed that vaccinating children may be immoral, unfair and/or unnecessary, leading to #LeaveOurKidsAlone trending on Twitter. The updated advice from the JCVI also comes after the committee said just two weeks ago that it was not currently advising the vaccination of over 12s on a routine basis.
Young people will have the choice to be vaccinated or not and will not legally need parental consent to be vaccinated.