All 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK should be offered the first dose of the Covid vaccine updated recommendations from the JCVI says.
Under previous guidance, some children aged 12 to 17 were eligible for the jab if they had underlying health conditions, but the new advice will see the Covid vaccine rolled out to all 16 and 17-year-olds.
This is everything you need to know.
What does the guidance say?
The Government announced on 4 August that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will now advise that all 16 and 17 year olds receive their first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The statement said: “In the last few weeks, there have been large changes in the way COVID-19 has been spreading in the UK, particularly in younger age groups. The adult vaccine programme has progressed very successfully and more safety data has become available, so it was important to review the advice for the vaccination of children and young people.”
It explained that it is likely that, when the second dose is offered, it will be from 12 weeks after the first dose.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said in a statement: “After carefully considering the latest data, we advise that healthy 16 to 17-year-olds are offered a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Advice on when to offer the second vaccine dose will come later.
“While Covid-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and for this particular age group, we expect one dose of the vaccine to provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.”
When will they be offered the vaccine?
In England, all young people aged 16 to 17 should have been offered their first today of a Covid-19 vaccine today (Monday 23 August), in order to give them the protection needed before returning to schools in September.
Young people can find their nearest walk in vaccination centre on the NHS website. Alternatively, those with three months of their 18th birthday, and all over-18s, can book an appointment via the NHS website.
In Scotland, all young people aged 16 to 17 will also be offered the Covid-19, in line with the JCVI recommendation.
From Friday 6 August, those aged 16 or 17 in mainland Scotland will be invited to register their interest through the online portal at NHS Inform, and will then be sent an appointment via SMS or email.
Alternatively, drop in clinics for 16 and 17 year olds will also be available.
The Scottish Government adds: “Anyone who doesn’t register an interest or attend a drop-in clinic, once open, will be sent an appointment invitation through the post. It is expected that everyone in this age group will have been offered a vaccination appointment by the end of September.”
What were the previous rules regarding children and vaccines?
Up until now, the JCVI has advised that children “at increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine”.
This includes children aged 12 to 16 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe disabilities.
The advice adds: “The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine.
“This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from Covid-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.”