NHS preparing for potential vaccine roll-out to 12 to 15 year olds
- Credit: PA
The government has said preparations are under way for possible plans to rollout the vaccine to 12 to 15 year olds as part of its ongoing vaccination programme.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said that following advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on August 4 that it is currently offering a first Covid-19 vaccine dose to all 16 and 17 year olds and to 12 to 15 year olds with specific underlying health conditions, and those who are household contacts of someone who is immunosuppressed.
It said the MHRA has said that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are "safe and effective" for 12 to 17 year olds.
No decisions have yet been made on the universal vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds but the government said it the JCVI recommends that this age group should be offered the vaccine, they need to be ready "to hit the ground running and start those vaccinations as soon as possible".
The government has asked the NHS to take the "necessary preparations" to ensure they are ready to offer the vaccination to 12 to 15 year olds from early September.
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And the NHS is preparing to deliver a school-based programme which will work alongside other delivery models such as GP-led services to ensure full coverage across the country.
As part of this, NHS England will contract providers to recruit and train staff to provide school-aged immunisation services, host webinars with immunisation providers, CCGs and local authorities to update them on contingency planning arrangements, and publish training materials for NHS vaccinators and local delivery partners.
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If a decision is made to vaccinate this age group, schools will be asked to support efforts if needed. Parental or carer consent will also be sought.
The government has said it is also continuing to prepare for a booster programme to ensure those "most vulnerable to Covid-19 have their protection against the virus extended ahead of winter and strengthened against new variants".
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “The phenomenal vaccine programme is building a wall of defence across the country, with more than 105,000 lives saved and over 82,100 hospitalisations prevented.
“Throughout the pandemic the government has planned ahead so we can respond to changing circumstances and move quickly to offer the life-saving vaccine to the people who need it most.
"That is why, while I await updated advice from JCVI on the 12 to 15 cohort, I have asked the NHS to make preparations – should they be needed – to rollout the vaccine to this group."