Boris 'to decide in weeks' if children should get Covid vaccine as India strain now spreading fastest in under-20s

BORIS Johnson will reportedly decide in weeks whether or not to give kids the Covid jab as the Indian variant spreads quickly in people under 20.

The Prime Minister is expected to make a decision on child vaccinations before the end of June, with infection rates currently highest in those aged 10-19.

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The PM will not, however, be given a firm recommendation on what to do, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation rather giving him "options and consequences" to help him decide, The Telegraph reports.

One JCVI source told the paper: "It's likely that the JCVI will come up with a menu of options saying what the consequences of each of them would be, rather than making an actual recommendation.

"There are a lot more things to consider with this than with the adult vaccination programme.

"What is the benefit to children versus the possible harm? What are the legal and ethical issues? Could it be rolled out in schools if it went ahead? Should we be using vaccines for children when so many places are struggling to immunise adults?

"Clearly a lot of preparations have been put in train by the Government in case ministers decide to go ahead, but the JCVI is in no way bound by that."

It comes as figures from Public Health England show that the highest Covid infection rate is currently in those aged 10-19, at 55.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Those aged 70-79 had the lowest, at 4.1 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, surveillance reports show there were 51 new Covid-related outbreaks in schools last week and 53 the week before – the highest number since the week ending March 28, when there were 86.

The JCVI and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are reportedly expected to meet after next week's half-term break to discuss the situation.

It comes after a source told The Sun last month that "plans are in place" to vaccinate children aged 12 and upwards and "senior government officials have been briefed".

Matt Hancock said later that Britain had enough Pfizer jabs on order to vaccinate all over-12s, with under-30s being offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab following concerns over blood clots.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt also said this week it was "time to look at vaccinating over-12s" in order to "protect schools" and keep them open.

And Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said leaders would support a single-jab vaccine programme for children and would "step up and play their part".

The European Medical Agency has recommended Pfizer vaccines for children as young as 12 while US regulators have also authorised it.

But the World Health Organisation has said vaccines need to be shared with countries that need to immunise adults first.

Professor Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group which developed the AstraZeneca jab, has said it is "morally wrong" to offer children in wealthy countries jabs before adults in poorer ones have been protected.

The issue has sparked a host of divisions elsewhere too.

Germany's national regulator insisted more data is needed before it can be sure the move is safe for children.

The pressure group Us For Them, which campaigns for children's rights, has also written an open letter to Boris Johnson urging him to rule out jabs for under-18s.

More than 240 people have signed the letter, including GPs, head teachers, MPs and celebrities including the singer Eric Clapton, who suffered a bad reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine, and the former footballer Matt Le Tissier.

Meanwhile, the Oxford University trial on children aged six to 17 receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine was suspended last month following concerns over blood clots.

A government spokesman said: "No decisions have been made on whether children should be offered vaccines.

"We will be guided by the experts once clinical trials have concluded."

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