Children will be given Covid-19 vaccinations in schools if the Government decides to offer jabs to 12 to 15-year-olds, the schools minister has said.
Nick Gibb said parental consent will “always be sought” before children are vaccinated in school, but he said that in “rare” circumstances teenagers can consent to receiving the jab themselves.
Speaking to the education select committee, Mr Gibb said delivering the jabs in schools would be the “swiftest and most efficient” way of rolling out the vaccination programme if given the green light.
The UK’s chief medical officers are currently reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds, such as minimising school absences.
It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) declined to recommend a widespread rollout to the age group on health grounds alone.
When asked whether all the vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds would be delivered in schools if approved, the schools minister told MPs: “Yes that is the intention, that the School Age Immunisation Service will deliver these vaccinations through the schools.
“It is the swiftest and most efficient way of delivering the vaccination programme, as with other vaccination programmes for that age group.”
He added: “The consent from parents will always be sought before the child is vaccinated in the school.”
But Mr Gibb said: “In some circumstances, and it is rare, children can consent themselves if they are competent to do so. The people administering vaccines in schools are aware of these sensitive issues.”
As children return to class, schools in England no longer have to keep pupils in year group “bubbles” to reduce mixing, and face coverings are no longer advised.
Children do not have to isolate if they come into contact with a positive case of Covid-19. Instead, they will need to get a PCR test and isolate only if positive.
When asked about reports that some schools have kept these safety measures in place, Mr Gibb told MPs: “There’s no real reason for schools to maintain the bubble arrangements.
“It’s not the advice that we are giving to schools and we have regional schools commissioners in all our regions and they will be talking to schools.”