At risk under 12-year-olds able to receive Covid jabs in January, Sajid Javid says

Credit: PA

The health secretary has said that at-risk children under the age of 12 will be able to be vaccinated against the coronavirus from as early as this month.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, Sajid Javid said that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the move, which will be kept under review to see if it should be expanded.

Mr Javid said the JCVI advises “that we should vaccinate under-12s that are at risk and that is exactly what we plan to do, and we will start that this month, but they are keeping that under review to see if we should expand that more broadly to everyone in that cohort.”

In December, the JCVI recommended vaccinations for about 330,000 children aged 5-11 who were at clinical risk, and also those living with someone who is immunosuppressed.

The decision came after the UK’s medicine watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for them.

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It was also previously announced that clinically vulnerable 12 to 15-years-olds who are most at risk from coronavirus will be able to get their booster jab from Monday. Around 500 children will be eligible, including those receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, those with leukaemia, diabetes, chronic diseases or severe mental illness, and those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed. They are entitled to their booster three months after their two primary vaccine doses, while severely immunosuppressed children can get their booster after a third primary dose. Those who have tested positive for Covid-19 must wait 12 weeks before getting their booster, or at least four weeks if they are in the highest risk groups.

In the wide-ranging press conference on Wednesday, which updated the country on the latest Covid data, Mr Javid also said the highly infectious Omicron variant is “in retreat” but warned that now is not the “finish line” in the fight against coronavirus.

The government are continuing to encourage people to get their vaccines and boosters, with official figures showing 36,621,671 booster and third doses have been given, a day-on-day rise of 75,088.

Covid-19 infections are significantly down compared with the peak at the end of 2021, the chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency said.

The encouraging news comes after Boris Johnson announced that England's Covid-19 Plan B restrictions are set to be lifted from next week and self-isolation rules could end before the end of March. Plan B measures include guidance to work from home, mandatory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport, and showing a Covid pass to enter large venues like nightclubs.