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Following the JCVI statement that vaccinating 12 to 15 years old would have little benefit for their own health the goverment has decided to not follow the science this time and go ahead with this expansion of the covid vaccination programme.

The move follows unanimous advice to ministers from the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers.

Parental consent will be sought prior to vaccination. Forms are expected to be distributed to parents in the coming days before the school based vaccination programme starts next week.

People aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced today (Monday 13 September).

In line with the recommendation of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the government sought the views of the 4 UK CMOs on the wider issues that are relevant to the health of children.

The government has accepted the advice of the 4 UK CMOs and the NHS is preparing to deliver a schools-based vaccination programme, which is the successful model used for vaccinations including for HPV and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP), supported by GPs and community pharmacies. Invitations for vaccination will begin next week.

Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination in line with existing school vaccination programmes.

Healthy school-aged children aged 12 to 15 will primarily receive their COVID-19 vaccination in their school with alternative provision for those who are home schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health settings.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

I have accepted the recommendation from the Chief Medical Officers to expand vaccination to those aged 12 to 15 - protecting young people from catching COVID-19, reducing transmission in schools and keeping pupils in the classroom.

I am very grateful for the expert advice I have received from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and UK Chief Medical Officers.

Our outstanding NHS stands ready to move forward with rolling out the vaccine to this group with the same sense of urgency we’ve had at every point in our vaccination programme.
Over 4 in 5 adults across the UK have received both COVID-19 vaccine doses, with over half of all 16 and 17 year olds coming forward for their first jab.

Not all MPs are happy about this decision

Conservative MP Marcus Fysh tweeted:
Sorry to have to say it but the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty does not deserve the confidence of the country in deciding to vaccinate teenagers without good clinical reason. He should resign.
Conservative Dr Caroline Johnson:
'I have given many vaccines in my time, including hundreds more recently of Covid vaccines. Half of children have already had coronavirus and are very likely to get it again. Does minister really believe that vaccinating three million children to prevent an average of four days of school or less is really reasonable?
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It is essential that the government immediately confirms that the process surrounding vaccinations will be run and overseen entirely by the appropriate medical teams. Where parents have questions, including about important matters such as consent, these must be handled by those same medical teams. There must be no delay in confirming this otherwise school leaders will be put in an impossible position of facing questions to which they simply do not have the answers.

“We are hearing reports of threatening letters being sent to school leaders urging them not to allow their school buildings to be used for vaccination, but these letters are misguided – it is not school leaders’ decision to make, it is the government’s and the NHS. School leaders are being put in an invidious position, stuck between government policy and public opinion, all while simply working to carry out their national duty.

“Schools must be allowed to focus on their core task of providing education to pupils. We would expect detailed guidance to be published by government clarifying all this without delay.”