The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that all 16- and 17-year-olds should be offered a Covid vaccine.
Last month, the JCVI recommended that only children aged 12-15 who are deemed at ‘increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease’ should be offered the vaccine.
However, the new guidance will allow all 16- and 17-year-olds to be offered the jab.
In a Downing Street news briefing yesterday afternoon (4 August), Professor Wei Shen Lim, JCVI’s Covid immunisation chair, said that young people were expected to receive good protection from the vaccine and that side effects were extremely rare.
He said: ‘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.’
He added that the advice on when to offer the second vaccine will come later.
The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said: ‘Today’s advice from the independent 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.’
This comes as the latest NHS data shows more than a fifth of patients admitted to hospital with the virus in July were between 18- and 34-years-old.
It follows the news that GP practices and primary care networks delivered 4.2 million Covid vaccines in June, according to NHS Digital data.
It comes after GP-led vaccination sites last month had to cancel Covid jabs for 12-15 year olds after the NHS said they should not go ahead yet due to indemnity concerns.
Those aged 12-15 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as people in this age group who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed, are eligible for the vaccination.
A version of this story first appeared on our sister title, Management in Practice.