Politics

Covid vaccine offered to all children over 5 in Scotland – and England could do the same


All children over five years old in Scotland and Wales will be offered the Covid vaccine in line with JCVI advice that hasn’t yet been published – piling pressure on England to do the same thing

Felix Dima, 13, from Newcastle receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in September
Felix Dima, 13, from Newcastle receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in September

Scotland and Wales have now both confirmed they will offer Covid-19 vaccines to all children over five.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the change today, hot on the heels of a similar announcement for children in Wales last night.

The decision is based on advice from the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that has not yet been published.

It piles pressure on the UK government to also follow the JCVI advice and offer jabs to all children over five in England too.

UK ministers have always previously accepted JCVI advice, suggesting jabs for over-5s could soon be extended to England too.

Reports had claimed Downing Street was holding back a decision for England – possibly until next Monday – amid an apparent split between its approach and the vaccine watchdog. But the fresh announcements will ramp up pressure on No10 to bring its announcement forward.






Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon receives her COVID booster vaccine (file photo)

An announcement had been repeatedly delayed as talks continued in the UK government.

It’s understood a rollout for over-5s will be less urgent than previous vaccine rollouts, due to the very low risk Covid poses to younger children – meaning ordinary care won’t be interrupted to give kids the jab.

Yesterday, Wales’ Health Minister Eluned Morgan confirmed vaccination for children aged five to 11 would not be a “matter of urgency”.

She explained: “That’s partly because the risk isn’t as great to that cohort.

“And we’re also waiting to hear from the JCVI to see whether they’ll need a booster on top of the booster for older age groups in the spring.”

Ms Sturgeon announced today’s news in a tweet. She said: “Although it isn’t yet published, I can confirm that (the Scottish Government) has received advice from JCVI recommending that vaccination is offered to all 5-11 yr olds.

“We will accept this advice & work is now underway on the logistics of delivery.”







It piles pressure on Boris Johnson to make an imminent announcement
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All children over 12 have been able to get the Covid jab since September last year.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) then approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in kids aged five to 11 before Christmas.

The JCVI later said the vaccine should be offered to the most vulnerable children in this age group, but held back from announcing a universal offer.

Vulnerable children are offered two jabs but each at a lower dose than for adults – 10 micrograms instead of 30 for the Pfizer jab.

More than 5.5 million dosages of the vaccine have already been administered to five to 11-year-olds in the US alone.

A Government spokesperson in Westminster said last night: “We are reviewing the JCVI’s advice as part of wider decision-making ahead of the publication of our long-term strategy for living with COVID-19. More detail will be set out shortly.”

Baroness Morgan admitted it would have been “a very difficult decision for the JCVI”.

“Generally, children have a milder illness and fewer hospitalisations,” she said yesterday. “But, of course, they have to balance that against the prospect of missing school.

“We have to consider very different issues when it comes to the vaccination of children as young as five years old, of course.

“So we’ll be in a position where we will expect those children to be accompanied by an adult.

“There will be a need for informed consent, but there will be an opportunity for siblings, for example, to be brought at the same time.”

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