Covid: Can my child have the coronavirus vaccine?

Credit: PA

There has been a lot of speculation around whether children will be required, or permitted, to have the coronavirus vaccine.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock originally said that the vaccine would not be used on children, due to their risk of severe illness being much lower than adults, stating "this is an adult vaccine, for the adult population."

However, last month Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told ITV News that it is "perfectly possible" that a Covid-19 vaccine could be licensed for children by the end of the year.

Clinical trials are now underway to assess the safety and immune response to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in 6-17 year olds.

Those trials are still on going but some children have now received the jab.

Dr Richard Bowker, who a Consultant Paediatrician at Derbyshire Children's Hospital, says there is a small group of children and young people who can now be vaccinated.

Criteria drawn up by The Joint Committee for Vaccination means that the vaccination roll out works with priority groups.

Dr Bowker says vaccinations have now been given to priority group six, which includes those who are 16 years and above and have severe underlying health problems.

But there's another very small group who meet a specific criteria that makes them eligible for the vaccine.

Some children can now be vaccinated providing they:

  • Are aged between 12 and 16 years old

  • Have severe neuro-disability

  • Are at high risk of chest infections

  • Often spend time in residential care

Dr Bowker says it is important to collect data and for clinical trials to go ahead before the vaccine is approved for use on the wider population of children - but some are simply too vulnerable to wait.

Professor Adam Finn is from the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

He says that no decision had been made yet on formally extending the Covid-19 vaccine programme to children.

Earlier this week he told ITV's Good Morning Britain,

"As far as I know there has been no decision made to immunise children starting in August, or indeed any decision been taken to immunise children at all at this point.

But it's certainly something that we might need to do."

Referring to a clinical trial on the use of the Oxford vaccine in children, he added: "That's why we're doing the study and we will be doing more studies of the other vaccines in children over the coming weeks.

"In order to establish that vaccines can safely be used in children, we need to do that."

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