MHRA approves Pfizer jab for 12-15 year olds – when will teenagers be eligible?

Pfizer coronavirus vaccine approved for 12 to 15 year olds

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More than 2,000 children participated in a clinical trial to determine the safety of coronavirus vaccines in younger members of the population. It found the Pfizer vaccine was 100 percent effective at preventing Covid-19 disease, although the true rate could be between 75 percent and 100 percent.

In adults, phase three clinical trials have shown the vaccine to be around 95 percent effective in preventing people from developing coronavirus symptoms.

Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: “We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.

“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12- to 15-year age group.”

Dr Raine added: “It will now be for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to advise on whether this age group will be vaccinated as part of the deployment programme.”

The Government’s independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines, also reviewed the safety, effectiveness and quality of the vaccine for use in younger people.

Chairman Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed said: “There has been a thorough assessment and review of this data which was also looked at specifically by the CHM’s Paediatric Medicines Expert Advisory Group who are scientific experts within this age group, as well as the CHM’s Covid-19 Vaccines Benefit Risk Expert Working Group.

“We have concluded that, based on the data we have seen on the quality, effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, its benefits do outweigh any risk.

“The MHRA will continue to scrutinise all of the suspected side-effects data received through the rigorous surveillance programme in place through the Yellow Card scheme and other safety surveillance measures for all of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the UK.”

When will teenagers get the vaccine?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will now decide whether children should get the jab.

The four nations of the UK are all at different stages in their vaccination strategies, with Scotland and Wales currently vaccinating the 18-29 age group across many areas.

If teenagers are to be vaccinated, it is expected to be after the majority of UK adults have been vaccinated.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The Government has asked the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise whether routine vaccination should be offered to younger people aged 12 to 17.

“We will be guided by the expert advisers and will update in due course.”

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Do children and teenagers need to be vaccinated?

One of the few saving graces of the coronavirus pandemic is the significantly reduced effect the virus seems to have on young people.

While children are much less likely to get sick from the virus, on rare occasions, young people who have been infected can later develop a dangerous condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can damage the brain and cause hallucinations.

However, it is thought that the benefits of vaccinating whole populations well outweighs the risks of developing significant health issues.

There is also growing evidence that vaccines are helping to hamper transmission of the virus, which would indicate it would be much safer to get children vaccinated so the spread of Covid-19 can come close to being eliminated.

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