Children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a COVID vaccine, the UK’s chief medical officers (CMOs) have decided.
The medical officers said their recommendation to the government was made after considering “what effect this will have on transmission in schools and effects on education”.
“It’s a useful tool to reduce the disruption,” they said.
Healthy children should be offered a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine and the rollout should begin “as soon as possible”, they added.
The move means around three million children could be eligible for the jab, which is expected to be given through schools.
The government has confirmed it will “set out” its decision “shortly” following the recommendation.
In their advice to the government, the CMOs said they were recommending vaccines on “public health grounds” and it was “likely vaccination will help reduce transmission of COVID-19 in schools”.
They added: “COVID-19 is a disease which can be very effectively transmitted by mass spreading events, especially with Delta variant.
“Having a significant proportion of pupils vaccinated is likely to reduce the probability of such events which are likely to cause local outbreaks in, or associated with, schools.
“They will also reduce the chance an individual child gets COVID-19. This means vaccination is likely to reduce (but not eliminate) education disruption.”
The CMOs have asked for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to look at whether second doses should be given to those aged 12 to 15 once more data comes through internationally. This will not be before the spring term.
The CMOs think a single dose will significantly reduce the chance of a young person getting COVID and passing the virus on.