The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds following a “rigorous review”.
Approving the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, the MHRA said that the vaccine is safe and effective in 12-15-year-olds and that the benefits of these age groups receiving the vaccine outweigh any risks.
The approval does not automatically mean that young people will receive the jab – it will be up to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to decide whether the UK’s coronavirus programme is expanded to the further age groups.
Announcing the approval of the jab being used in further age groups, Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive said;
“We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.
“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved COVID-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12- to 15-year age group.
“No extension to an authorisation would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.”
Currently, vaccinations are being offered to people aged 18 and over, though some 16-17-year-olds who are in particular priority groups are also eligible for the vaccine. In a tweet, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “The government has asked the JCVI to advise whether routine vaccination should be offered to those aged 12-17.”
Children generally have a much lower risk of becoming seriously from COVID-19, so vaccination efforts have so far focused on people in older age groups. Currently, anyone in England aged 30 or over can book their coronavirus vaccination appointments through the NHS.
To date, around 75.5% of the UK’s adult population have received at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 – totalling nearly 40 million people.