Covid: Children under 16 will not be vaccinated unless vulnerable

ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent meets one family who can't wait for their son to get the jab

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has confirmed people under the age of 16 will not be vaccinated against Covid-19, unless they are at risk.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised ministers against offering jabs to all children until further evidence on the risks is available.

The news means youngsters aged between 12 and 15 who are deemed vulnerable to Covid, or who live with adults who are either immunosuppressed or otherwise vulnerable to the virus, will be offered the vaccine.

Wales' health minister Eluned Morgan said she accepted the advice from the JCVI and would be implementing the same policy there.

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All 17-year-olds within three months of their 18th birthday will be offered a Covid vaccine, a government minister has confirmed.

Mr Zahawi told the Commons that younger children with “severe neuro-disabilities” and those living in homes with immunosuppressed relatives would also be offered a vaccine.

The vaccines minister said: “(The JCVI) recommends expanding the offer of the vaccine to some younger children with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of Covid-19."

In full: Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi updates MPs on vaccine plans

"This includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down syndrome, immunosuppression and profound or multiple learning disabilities," he said.

“The JCVI advice also recommends offering a vaccine to children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with someone who is immunosuppressed. This means we can indirectly protect the immunosuppressed who are at higher risk of serious disease from Covid-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccinations.

“The JCVI advises that we should offer the vaccine to all 17-year-olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday so we can make sure they are protected as soon as they turn 18.”

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Children who are at increased risk of Covid-19 are to be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on the NHS “as soon as possible”, as are those living with people with weakened immune systems, the Health Secretary has announced.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today’s advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) means more vulnerable young people at greatest risk from this virus can now benefit from COVID-19 vaccines. I have accepted their expert recommendations and I have asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate those eligible as soon as possible.

 “Young people aged 12 to 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as people who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed, will be eligible for vaccination soon.

 “Our independent medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 and over as it meets their robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.

 “Today’s advice does not recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at this point in time. But the JCVI will continue to review new data, and consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date.

 “Covid-19 vaccines have saved almost 37,000 lives and prevented around 11.7 million infections in England alone. They are building a wall of defence and are the best way to protect people from serious illness. I encourage everybody who is eligible to get their jabs as soon as they can.”