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UK to Extend Covid-19 Vaccines for Children With Vulnerable Health Conditions

Based on advice by the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the vast majority of children in the UK who are at low risk from the deadly virus will not be offered the vaccine for now. (File photo)

Based on advice by the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the vast majority of children in the UK who are at low risk from the deadly virus will not be offered the vaccine for now. (File photo)

The latest decision sets the UK in marked contrast with some other countries such as the US and Canada which have mass vaccinated children aged 12 to 17.

Children over the age of 12 who are at higher risk of getting ill if they catch Covid-19 will be offered a vaccine, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the UK Parliament on Monday. Based on advice by the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the vast majority of children in the UK who are at low risk from the deadly virus will not be offered the vaccine for now.

However, some healthy children over 12 who live with other vulnerable people can have the vaccine, as well as those on the cusp of turning 18. Overall, around 370,000 children will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine and will be offered the Pfizer/BioNtech jab. Young people aged 12 to 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down's Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as people who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed, will be eligible for vaccination soon, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, said in a statement which was relayed to the House of Commons by Zahawi.

Today's advice does not recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at this point in time. But the JCVI will continue to review new data, and consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date, Javid's statement added. The minister described the Covid-19 vaccines as a wall of defence, which have saved almost 37,000 lives and prevented around 11.7 million infections in England alone.

The latest decision sets the UK in marked contrast with some other countries such as the US and Canada which have mass vaccinated children aged 12 to 17.

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first published:July 19, 2021, 23:52 IST