Teenagers will not need their parents’ consent to get the Pfizer/BioNTech inoculation which will be offered to them following the recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Officials close to the programme said that under current UK guidance, if a child is able to understand the risks and benefits of any medical treatment then they can legally give consent without their parents’ say-so. The child or young person’s consent is considered the most appropriate consent, even if a parent disagrees.
At present, children over the age of 12 are only eligible for a vaccine if they have certain medical conditions which put them at risk from Covid-19 or teenagers who live with people who are immunocompromised.
Information which had led them to reconsider the position on vaccinating children aged 16 and 17 included the recent surge of infections, more data on the safety of the vaccines and the excellent progress of the adult vaccination programme.
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The JCVI said that a number of factors have been considered but the most important element was the risk/benefit of vaccination to the individual.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said in a statement: “After carefully considering the latest data, we advise that healthy 16 to 17-year-olds are offered a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Advice on when to offer the second vaccine dose will come later.
“While Covid-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and for this particular age group, we expect one dose of the vaccine to provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government accepted the JCVI’s recommendations and has asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate 16 and 17-year-olds “as soon as possible”.
He said in a statement: “Today’s advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) means more young people aged 16 and over can benefit from Covid-19 vaccines.
“I have accepted their expert recommendations and I have asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate those eligible as soon as possible.
“The JCVI have not recommended vaccinating under-16s without underlying health conditions but will keep its position under review based on the latest data.”