The government could soon start offering first doses of the Covid vaccine to 16 and 17 year-olds, following new advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI).
The updated advice was announced in a press conference this afternoon, led by England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam.
At first glance: 5 key points
– Following updated advice from the JCVI, 16 and 17-year-olds will soon be offered first doses of the Covid vaccine
– This comes after extensive trials and analysis by regulatory agencies found that the vaccine is effective and safe for use by young people
– A first dose will be offered initially, with the recommendation that this should come “within weeks” but an announcement on a second dose will come later
– The advice for 12-15 year-olds remains unchanged
– The government has confirmed it will accept the JCVI’s recommendation and the NHS has been instructed vaccinate those eligible “as soon as possible”
What’s been said?
Professor Wei Shen Lim of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said: “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.”
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today’s advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) means more young people aged 16 and over can benefit from Covid-19 vaccines.
“I have accepted their expert recommendations and I have asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate those eligible as soon as possible.
“The JCVI have not recommended vaccinating under-16s without underlying health conditions but will keep its position under review based on the latest data.”
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said the decision to vaccinate teenagers came following “rigorously reviewed” trials in children and young people.
Dr Raine said: “All of this shows (the vaccine) is effective in the same way as we see in adults aged 16 to 25.”
She continued: “This meant that the vaccine could be approved for use in young people aged 12 to 15 years.”
“The safety data and adolescence was comparable to that we’ve seen in young adults and no new adverse events were identified.
“As in young adults, the safety profile showed mild to moderate reactions in line with the way the vaccine works, perhaps of temperature, sore arm, headache – that kind of thing.”