TWELVE-year-olds are set to get the Covid vaccine from August under plans to tackle the Indian variant surge, it is reported.
The UK is on course to give jabs to 12 to 15-year-olds by the second half of August or early September at the latest, a government source has revealed.
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Ozzy Deane, 15, conducts a mouth swab during his lateral flow test as he arrives at Archway School sports hall in StroudCredit: PA
Kids aged 12-15 could be given the Pfizer Covid vaccine ‘from August’Credit: PA
Ministers are waiting on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which insiders say will recommend the vaccine for younger teens, before making a final decision.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned “a huge proportion of the latest cases are in children and the Indian variant” and urged pupils to take a test before returning to class tomorrow.
Officials are preparing for a roll-out of the Pfizer jab in schools at the start of the next academic year, after the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA, approved the use of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in 12 to 15-year-olds.
The move would follow the way in which BCG injections were previously dished out to schoolkids en masse.
But should the decision be taken to vaccinate under-16s in the coming weeks, senior government figures have said they expect to be ready to begin the roll out from August.
Mr Hancock wrote in The Telegraph: “The Delta variant, first identified in India, is more transmissible and now makes up the majority of new Covid cases in this country.
“So the mission for the weeks and months ahead is to stay ahead in the race between virus and vaccine.
Figures from PHE show kids aged 10 and over, and teenagers, are responsible for more than a quarter of recent Covid casesCredit: PA
Mattt Hancock warned the Indian, or Delta, variant now made up the majority of new Covid casesCredit: PA
“We have to show the same spirit that has taken us this far and keep doing our bit. That means keeping up the basics – like hands, face, space and fresh air – and getting regular tests.
“A huge proportion of the latest cases are in children, so it’s especially important all secondary school age children take a test today before going back from half term tomorrow, and isolate if positive – to stop the spread and protect the education of their peers.
“And of course it’s critical we keep coming forward for our jabs when it’s our turn, including that vital second jab which we now know gives better protection against the Delta variant.”
Figures from Public Health England released earlier this week show kids aged 10 and over, and teenagers, are responsible for more than a quarter of recent Covid cases, the highest among all age groups.
It comes as hundreds of teens were turned away from a walk-in vaccination centre in north London yesterday after doses ran out half way through a four-hour clinic.
Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the JCVI, suggested vaccinating under-16s would benefit wider society, rather than just the teenagers and kids themselves.
“In terms of being to their benefit, it’s either a health benefit or an educational benefit”, he told The Telegraph.
Students at UCL were invited to get the Pfizer jab todayCredit: Reuters
The vaccine had already run out by 2pm at UCLCredit: Reuters
“That will be weighed up against the possibility of children transmitting to adults to protect other adults by immunising children, but the trouble with that is an ethical question about safety.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson echoed Mr Hancock’s call for kids to get tested before returning to school following the half term break.
Mr Williamson said: “Asymptomatic testing helps break chains of transmission by taking people who are infectious but don’t know it out of circulation.
“As the half term comes to an end, take a Covid test before going back to the classroom.”
Earlier on Saturday, thousands of students at University College London were left disappointed after vaccine supplies ran out halfway through a four-hour pop-up clinic which had been declared open to all students.
Experts have warned that pushing ahead with the full lifting of lockdown restrictions on June 21 would be “foolish” in light of the rise in Covid cases in recent days.
Professor Stephen Reicher said the spread of the Indian Covid variant and rising infections mean a June 21 ‘freedom day’ would be a “major risk”.
Brits needing a booster vaccine in the autumn are likely to be offered a different brand from their original jab.
A leaked memo from senior health officials, seen by The Mail on Sunday says “it is likely people will be recommended to receive a different brand of vaccine to the brand they received previously during this inaugural programme”.
The Indian variant is causing a rise in Covid cases