Children warned over hugging their grandparents – even if they've had the vaccine

'Don't go hugging them too much':   Dr Jenny Harries. (John Sibley/PA)
'Don't go hugging them too much': Dr Jenny Harries at Wednesday's press conference. (PA)

One of the government’s top coronavirus advisers has said children should still not hug their grandparents even if they have had their vaccines.

Dr Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said it should be avoided “until we’re absolutely sure” about the effectiveness of the jabs.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced England's "road map" out of lockdown, with the government aiming to have removed all restrictions on social contact by 21 June at the earliest.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference, Dr Harries said: “The testing programme in schools [which open on 8 March] is clearly going to mean that people – parents, grandparents and teachers and other school children – can be very assured schools will be as safe as they can be, because we are trying to remove infection from that environment.

“Of course, that will have a really positive impact on breaking chains of transmission in communities and in those families."

However, she added: "Having got so far down the line with this [vaccine rollout] and now on the road map... I would encourage children – even if their grandparents have had their vaccinations – not to go hugging them too much until we’re absolutely sure about what the impact of that vaccine rollout has been.

“I’m sure it’s going to be positive, we just need to take a steady course out of the road map.”

Watch: Wednesday's coronavirus vaccine in numbers

On Monday, it was revealed a single shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine cuts the chance of hospital admission and death from COVID-19 by more than 75% among over-80s, according to real-world data from Public Health England (PHE).

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said this was at the “lower end of the estimate” and the drop in hospital admissions and deaths was thought to be even more profound.

A separate study found the Pfizer jab also offered a high degree of protection for younger age groups.

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Experts from PHE are still collecting data on the effectiveness of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

As of Tuesday, 18,242,873 people in the UK had received their first COVID jab.

The government is currently in its first phase of issuing vaccines to people in the top priority groups: over-50s, care home residents, clinically extremely vulnerable people, over-16s with underlying health conditions, and frontline health and social care workers.

Watch: How England will leave lockdown