© Reuters. File photo: People walking along Oxford Street during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, England, on July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
Author: Alistair Smot
London (Reuters)-The UK will provide all 16- and 17-year-olds with their first dose of vaccine Pfizer (NYSE:) COVID-19 vaccine, its vaccine consultant said on Wednesday that this move will protect more children from the disease before school starts in September.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization in the United Kingdom (JCVI) initially recommended less than two weeks ago that vaccines should only be provided to frail children, and that preventive measures are being taken.
On Wednesday, it updated its initial recommendations based on changes in the spread of the disease among younger populations and the latest safety data available.
The rapid spread of the Delta virus among young people has led to a recent peak in the number of cases in schools before the summer break. [nL8N2PA6GK]
Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 Chairman of JCVI, said: “After careful consideration of the latest data, we recommend that healthy people between the ages of 16 and 17 provide the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.” He added that the second dose of vaccine will be provided later. Later provided.
“Although COVID-19 is usually mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some people.”
JCVI stated that keeping children healthy and going to school is the most important for them, although it will also have a broader positive impact on society.
Health Minister Sajid Javid said he accepted the recommendation and expects the plan to begin at the end of August.
Compared with the United States and Israel, the United Kingdom has adopted a more cautious approach in vaccinating children. The United States and Israel continue to vaccinate children under the age of 18.
Officials said the method is prudent in order to learn as much as possible about the safety of vaccines, but emphasized that they are safe.
JCVI maintains its previous recommendation that children between 12 and 15 years of age with specific underlying health conditions should also be vaccinated, but it opens the door for further adjustments in the future.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam said at a press conference: “My feeling is that as data becomes available, (the list of eligible children) is more likely to expand over time. Not smaller.”
Russell Viner, professor of child and adolescent health at UCL, said that although the risk profile of 16 to 17-year-old children is low, it overlaps with the risk profile of 18 to 19-year-old children who can already be vaccinated.
“Any decision to vaccinate children and adolescents must balance risks and benefits. This is no easy task,” he said.
“Vaccination of older teenagers is a reasonable first step. It is important for young people to return to school, and it will also benefit the wider society, including the elderly and young children.”
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