Neil Ferguson issues warning about covid hospitalisations
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In the coming days, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to announce whether vulnerable children aged 12-15 and those close to 18 will be offered a jab. Trials into vaccine efficacy in young people are still ongoing but are expected to wrap up later this year, opening the door for more children to be vaccinated.
Prof Neil Ferguson, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told the BBC the country can not achieve herd immunity without vaccinating the UK’s younger population.
He said: “In the absence of vaccinating it’s inevitable that we’re going to have very high numbers of cases in teenagers, and we will not be able to reach herd immunity without significant immunity in people under 18.”
Around one in five people in the UK are under the age of 16.
In June, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the use of the Pfizer jab in Britain for those aged 12 to 15 following successful trials in teenagers.
The company is expected to release trials for those aged five to 11 in September and data for two to five-year-olds by November.
Experts are currently concerned the benefits to children may not outweigh the risks as data has shown younger people are at little risk from the virus.
Some countries have pushed ahead with vaccinating children such as the US and Israel which jab kids as young as 12.
Robert Jenrick, Housing and Communities Secretary, said the Government was expecting advice from JCVI imminently.
On Sunday, he told Sky News: “We will be looking carefully at their advice when we receive it – we expect it very soon – on whether or not we should open up the vaccine programme in the first instance to those children who are just short of their 18th birthday, to those children who have particular vulnerabilities and those children who are in households where there are people who are particularly vulnerable.
“That seems a sensible way for us to proceed, but ministers will have to make that decision when they are armed with the final advice from the JCVI.”
Ahead of freedom day, the Government announced all UK adults have been offered a first dose of a Covid vaccine.
The announcement came just one day before most Covid restrictions ended in England – including social distancing and mandatory mask wearing.
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However, only 87.9 percent have received their first dose and 68.3 percent have been fully vaccinated.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The Government will continue to be guided by the advice of the JCVI, and no decisions have been made by ministers on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered Covid vaccines.”
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