The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has been given approval for use in children aged 12 to 17 by the UK medical watchdog.
It is the second coronavirus jab to be authorised for the young age group, with the Pfizer vaccine being granted approval earlier this year.
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‘Safe and effective’
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said the Moderna jab - also known as the Spikevax vaccine - is “safe and effective” among children aged 12 and over.
The regulator added that it will be the decision of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise the government whether this age group should be offered this vaccine.
At the moment, some children aged 12 to 15 are only offered the Pfizer vaccine if they are considered to be clinically vulnerable.
However, it was recently announced that all 16 and 17 year-olds in England will be offered the chance to book their first Covid-19 vaccine before 23 August.
It has not yet been confirmed whether the Moderna vaccine will be offered as part of this rollout.
Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: “I am pleased to confirm that the Covid-19 vaccine made by Moderna has now been authorised in 12 to 17-year-olds. The vaccine is safe and effective in this age group.
“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12 to 17-year age group.”
Awaiting formal recommendation
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said it has now asked the JCVI for its formal recommendation on whether to administer the Moderna vaccine to people aged 12 to 17.
Until a recommendation is made, all young people aged 16 to 17, clinically vulnerable children aged 12 to 15, and people who live with adults who are immunosuppressed, will all be offered a first dose of a Pfizer vaccine by Monday 23 August.
In Northern Ireland, the Moderna jab has already been approved for use in children aged 12 under an extension of the approval from the European Medicines Agency in July.
Unlike several other countries, which have been successfully vaccinating youngsters for some time, the UK has taken a much more cautious approach to routinely offering the Covid-19 jab to children.
Officials only recently confirmed the extension of the vaccination programme to 16 and 17 year-olds, with a target of offering a first dose to all teens this month.
It is hoped that by offering the jab to teens, it will allow them to build up some level of immunity before the start of the next school year in September.
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