The children under 16 who can get a COVID vaccine

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read

Watch: Vaccines will not be offered to 12- to 15-year-olds at this stage – JCVI chair

The government has given the go-ahead for 16- and 17-year-olds to be get a coronavirus vaccine.

Over-16s will be offered a first jab in the coming weeks following updated advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

However, the vaccine rollout will not be extended to most 12- to 15-year-olds... at least for now.

What are the current rules for 12- to 15-year-olds?

The Pfizer vaccine has previously been approved for use in the UK for 12- to 17-year-olds.

With Wednesday's announcement, all 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to have one.

Children aged between 12 and 15 are only eligible if they have certain medical conditions that put them at risk from serious COVID-19 illness.

This includes people with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), or severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register.

It also includes over-12s who live with people who are immunocompromised.

Why aren't other 12- to 15-year-olds currently being offered a jab?

Prof Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 chair of the JCVI, said at a Downing Street press conference: "We know from data from the UK that the vast majority of 12- to 15-year-olds who become seriously unwell are those who have underlying health conditions in the first place.

“So, by offering vaccination in a targeted manner, we will be protecting the vast majority of 12- to 15-year-olds.”

Prof Wei Shen Lim at Wednesday's Downing Street press conference. (PA)
Prof Wei Shen Lim at Wednesday's Downing Street press conference. (PA)

Could this change to include all 12- to 15-year-olds?

It looks likely.

Prof Lim said the JCVI will be reviewing the vaccination data on healthy 12- to 15-year-olds.

“If the data allows, then we will obviously want to try and protect them with vaccination as well, but that’s a decision we... prefer not to make at this point.”

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And sitting alongside Prof Lim, England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam gave a strong hint the vaccine rollout will be extended to this age group.

"My sense is that it is more likely rather than less likely that that list will broaden over time as data become available.”

And what about under-12s?

In its statement released on Wednesday, the JCVI said: "Clinical trials are underway in pre-school and primary-school aged students. Vaccines are only likely to be approved for use in these age groups after summer 2021. JCVI will continue to update its advice as new data emerge."

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