Children younger than 12 could be given Covid jabs next year
Leaked proposals have shown health officials are considering offering Covid jabs to young children spring 2022.
At present, coronavirus jabs are only available to kids aged 12 and over.
But in a few months time, this policy could change to include those aged between five and 11-years-old, according to the report seen by The Sun.
Should this happen, it would mark a significant change in Government policy, as jabs for under-12s were ruled out at the start of November.
Health officials said they regularly plan for how to roll out vaccines quickly according to the latest expert advice.
What have the main health bodies said?
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said certain standards have to be met before it can give the go ahead to Covid vaccinations for children under the age of 12.
A spokesperson told the PA news agency: “Extending the use of a Covid-19 vaccine to children aged five to 11 would only be authorised if the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness are met.
“As with children aged 12 and above, parents can be fully assured that for any potential authorisation in this age group, the safety of the children would be our top priority.”
Should the MHRA allow Covid jabs for younger children, the Government would consider recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) before any rollout.
Asked about the leaked report, a spokesperson for NHS England said: “The NHS regularly plans for how it would operationalise opening vaccines to more people so it is ready to extend the jab quickly when and if any decision is recommended by the JCVI.”
In The Sun’s news piece, an anonymous source said the plans could change, but added that asking parents for permission to vaccinate young children “is in the schedule”.
Do children under 12 get Covid vaccines in other countries?
At the start of November, US health officials allowed for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to five to 11-year-olds.
However, doses would be a third of the strength compared to the jabs given to teenagers and adults.
China has given vaccines to children aged between three and 17-years-old.
But most other countries have not yet followed suit and are only vaccinating children over the age of 12.
What are the current rules in the UK?
Kids aged 12 to 15 have been able to get one dose of the Covid-19 vaccination since September.
The JCVI has not yet advised on whether second jabs will be made available to healthy teenagers in this age group.
But in an update this week, experts advised that children aged 12 and over who have been infected with Covid should not be given a jab until 12 weeks later.
This advice had come in to reduce a “very, very small” risk of heart inflammation post-vaccination, experts from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.
Reporting by PA