WATCH: Full report by Marc Mallett
Children aged 12 to 15 in Northern Ireland are to be offered a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
The move follows the unanimous advice to ministers from the four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMO).
The four CMO's came to the decision on Monday after considering directly how it will impact the 12-15 year old age group and did not consider its impact on wider society.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the Moderna and the Pfizer jab for all people over the age of 12 in the UK.
The Pfizer vaccine will be offered in Northern Ireland with parental consent needing sought before the jab is administered.Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I have carefully considered the advice provided by the four UK Chief Medical Officers and have accepted their recommendation to expand the vaccination programme to all those aged 12-15. This move will help protect young people from catching COVID-19 and is expected to prevent disruption in schools by reducing transmission.”
For those who are part of an ‘at risk’ group, they will receive two doses, eight weeks apart, in line with JCVI advice.
The HSC is preparing to deliver the programme which is expected to be based in schools.
They will be supported by GPs where necessary with consent forms for vaccination expected to be distributed via schools shortly.
Minister Swann concluded: “I thank the UK Chief Medical Officers for their expert advice. Our healthcare system stands ready to extend the vaccination programme to this group with the same dedication and urgency that they have delivered all other parts of the vaccination programme.”
WATCH: Interview with Dr. Naresh Chada, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer