July 19, 2021 4.44 pm This story is over 34 months old

Vaccines opened to 12-15-year-olds with health conditions

Contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed also invited for jab

Government bosses have agreed to open up coronavirus vaccinations to 12-15-year-olds with severe health conditions.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said he had listened to advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), but stopped short of allowing all under-18s to receive a vaccine.

The decision instead includes those with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.

It also includes youngsters who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed.

Mr Javid said the decision “means more vulnerable young people at greatest risk from this virus can now benefit from COVID-19 vaccines”.

“Our independent medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 and over as it meets their robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality,” he said.

“COVID-19 vaccines have saved almost 37,000 lives and prevented around 11.7 million infections in England alone. They are building a wall of defence and are the best way to protect people from serious illness.”

He said the JCVI would continue to review new data, and consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date.