12-to-15 year olds to be offered a single dose of covid vaccine from next week

  • Watch Elodie Harper's report

Children aged 12-to-15 years will be offered a single dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from next week, the Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said.

The decision takes into account the impact of the pandemic on children’s education, as well as the risks to their mental health from missing school.

The move means that around three million children could be eligible for the jab and comes despite the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) deciding not to recommend mass vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds.

It's expected that the Covid vaccinations will be rolled out at schools.

Anya and Kai at Downham Market Academy in Norfolk are both 15. They told ITV Anglia that they are pleased to have been offered the jab. Kai said: "I'm very happy that it's actually happening because it's just this virus has been going around for ages now and it feels like there is now another step toward stopping it."

Anya and Kai at Downham Market Academy Credit: ITV Anglia

However, vaccination of this age group remains controversial. 

The United States has been vaccinating children since May but here in the UK just two weeks ago, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said that while the health gains from vaccinating the entire age group were greater than the risks, “the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12- to 15-year-olds at this time”.

The headteacher at Downham Market Academy said that he will not take a position on whether families should vaccinate their children or not.

Mr Eastwood said:

Schools already facilitate vaccinations twice a year for the MMR and HPV jabs.

Vaccinating 12 to 15 year olds is not just about slowing the spread of the virus, it is also about trying to minimise disruption to their education. 

Whatever individual families decide, schools we spoke to in the Anglia region say they are clear that they will continue to support all their children, whether vaccinated or not.

  • Watch ITV Anglia's interview with Stephen Bustin from Anglia Ruskin University