Mass vaccination of 12 to 17-year-old children against Covid-19 is unlikely to be recommended soon, the BBC understands – but certain groups of children may be offered a vaccine.
Official advice from the UK’s vaccine committee, the JCVI, to the government is expected on Wednesday.
There has been much speculation over whether children were going to be included in the UK’s mass vaccination programme after regulator the MHRA approved Pfizer’s use in 12 to 15-year-olds recently.
Current advice is that 16 to 18-year-olds can be offered a Pfizer jab if they are in a priority group, or live with someone who has a weakened immune system.
Children’s risk of severe disease from Covid is tiny and deaths are extremely rare. As such, the direct benefits to them of vaccination would be low.
It means some have questioned whether it’s morally right to vaccinate children in the UK, particularly when millions of other people around the world remain unvaccinated.
On the other hand, vaccinating children could reduce infections across society, help protect adults and the vulnerable, and keep schools open.
“This is a very finely balanced issue and a difficult decision,” says Prof Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine and child health from the University of Liverpool.
The UK’s stock of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is currently being prioritised for adults aged 18 to 40 – who are not being offered AstraZeneca – as the government pushes to see all adults in the UK given at least one dose by the end of July.