Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to children vulnerable to Covid, Health Minister announces

Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to vulnerable children more at risk from Covid-19, a Health Minister has confirmed.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi speaking in the House of Commons on Monday July 19 (PA)
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi speaking in the House of Commons on Monday July 19 (PA)

Most children will not be offered the injections, but young people aged between 12 and 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, profound or multiple learning disabilities, Downs Syndrome or those who are immunosuppressed will be offered Pfizer jabs, as well as those aged 12 - 17 who live with immunosuppressed people.

Seventeen-year-olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday will also be offered a vaccination.

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The decision follows advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which said it was not currently advising that children outside these groups receive a vaccine because the benefits do not outweigh the potential risks.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi gave the news to MPs on Monday afternoon, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid - currently isolating after testing positive over the weekend - said in a statement that he has “asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate those eligible as soon as possible.”

He added: “Our independent medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 and over as it meets their robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.”

In the Commons, Mr Zahawi added: “I know that people will have questions about what it means for them and their children, but I can assure them that nobody needs to come forward at this stage. The NHS will get in touch with them at the right time and they will make sure that the jabs are delivered in a setting that meets their complex needs.”

During his appearance at the despatch box, Mr Zahawi also confirmed that from the autumn, anybody wanting to go to a nightclub or other large venues will have to be double vaccinated.

He encouraged businesses to “use the NHS Covid pass in the weeks ahead”, adding in the Commons: “We will be keeping a close watch on how it is used by venues and reserve the right to mandate if necessary.

“By the end of September everyone aged 18 and over will have the chance to receive full vaccination and the additional two weeks for that protection to really take hold.

“So at that point we plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.

“Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient."