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The deputy chief medical officer said he wanted to see the rollout of jabs to teenagers underway in a matter of weeks.
His comments were made as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation |(JVCI) recommended those aged 16 to 18 be allowed to get an injection.
The announcement was a change in advice from a month ago when they advised against teenagers being inoculated.
It said changes in the spread of the disease in younger groups and the latest safety data that was available was behind the updated guidance.
“After carefully considering the latest data, we advise that healthy 16 to 17-year-olds are offered a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Advice on when to offer the second vaccine dose will come later” said Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s COVID-19 Chair.
“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.”
Coronavirus infections have dropped across the UK over the past fortnight, with some putting suggesting the break up of schools is behind the fall.
Scientists continue to believe there could be a winter surge of the virus from September, once school children return to classrooms and the weather turns.
“Children are going to start going back to colleges and sixths forms from September, and in Scotland that will be slightly earlier, so there is no time to waste in getting on with this,” Mr Van Tam said.
“Now we have the JCVI advice on starting that initial first dose in 16 and 17-year-olds, then I want us to proceed as fast as is practically possible.
“That isn’t going to be tomorrow, I don’t think it is likely to be early next week.”
He added: “The NHS has been kept informed of what is being deliberated for JCVI, it has been preparing for multiple options for very many weeks now and I would expect this programme will start in a very short number of weeks.”
More to follow…
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