Children in the UK could start receiving covid vaccines from August this year as the government pushes for maximum national immunity, it has been revealed.
The plan leaked to The Telegraph means that up to 11 million under 18s could be vaccinated by the start of the autumn term. This is months ahead of when inoculations had originally been expected for children.
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A trial to test how well the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine works in children started at the end of February. It involves 300 children aged from six to 17 years.
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Moderna has also started vaccine trials in the US for babies aged 6 months to children under 12 years.
The Mail Online reports: The government awaits data from a major child vaccine study by Oxford University, with conclusions due in June or July, which will dictate the final decision on jabs for children.
The proposal is bound to be controversial because the virus poses only a minuscule risk to children and there is constantly evolving data on vaccine safety.
Figures from Public Health England (PHE) show the risk of dying from covid if infected is 1,513 per 100,000 people for over-80s, but for children aged five to nine, this is just 0.1 per 100,000.
People who back the policy argue that it is important to minimise the risk of infection, despite academics who argue children do not contribute to the spread of covid.
Israel is the first country in the world to have rolled out vaccines to children, with 16 and 17-year-olds having jabs after the health ministry decided it was safe.
Britain’s vaccine drive, like Israel’s, has been immensely successful – with around three million first doses administered each week.
If the proposal to jab children goes ahead, this would mean 11 million kids could be vaccinated before the start of the autumn term.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said ‘no decisions have been made on whether children should be offered vaccinations.’
One source involved in the plan told The Telegraph that vaccines for children ‘could begin by late summer,’ stating specifically that August was the date.
Another source said that this would be the ‘earliest’ the roll-out for under-18s would begin.
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