Covid Scotland: Covid jags for 16 and 17-year-olds 'to be approved'

Updated advice on Covid vaccination of children is expected from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation within days.
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “veering towards expecting” the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) would soon outline updated guidance for young people having the coronavirus jab.

Speaking to MSPs on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon had suggested the decision could come within days.

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And The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph both reported that the change would be approved on Wednesday.

Picture: PA MediaPicture: PA Media
Picture: PA Media

Ms Sturgeon said: “We are waiting on JCVI advice. When I say ‘we’, I am obviously referring to the Scottish Government, but the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments are in the same position.”

Ms Sturgeon said the four chief medical officers across the UK had written to the JCVI asking them to look again at vaccination advice for young people.

She said: “First, as a priority, I am particularly hopeful that we will see updated recommendations for 16 and 17-year-olds.

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“I am hoping for – possibly veering towards expecting – updated advice from the JCVI in the next day or so.”

The JCVI has so far ruled out the mass vaccination of healthy children, but under existing guidance young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious Covid infection should have already been offered a jab.

Children aged 12 to 15 with certain conditions which make them vulnerable to coronavirus can also access the vaccine, as can those aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person, such as a parent or grandparent.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty previously said there was a balance to be struck between vaccinating young people who do not tend to suffer severely from the virus, and ensuring their lives were not disrupted.

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Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “With the JCVI apparently about to give the green light to vaccinating 16-year-olds, ministers need to ensure plans are in place to roll out this vital next stage of vaccination while ensuring parents have all the facts and information they need.”

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Ms Sturgeon said she was hoping for “firm updated recommendations” that 16 and 17 year olds be offered the vaccine as a priority.

She said: “Assuming it is safe and the risk benefit analysis bears this out, I would like to see us in the fullness of time… offer vaccination to all people in that age group.”

Ms Sturgeon urged young people to take up a vaccine when offered it, especially before enjoying new freedoms such as the opening of nightclubs.

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The Scottish Government is “keeping options open” on the use of Covid vaccine passports for access to some higher risk venues in future.

But Ms Sturgeon added: “I would be passionately and fundamentally opposed to their use for access to public services or anything that was seen as essential for people.”

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