NHS England has asked trusts to prepare plans for the potential of all 12-15-year-olds to be offered a Covid vaccine from 6 September, though the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said no decisions have been made yet.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said it is continuing to ‘review emerging data’ before it gives the go ahead for a wider rollout.
Currently, only those with health conditions or who live with someone clinically vulnerable have been offered the vaccine in this age group.
NHS trusts were asked by NHS England and NHS Improvement on Wednesday for ‘additional detailed planning information’, according to reports in today’s the Telegraph.
The newspaper quoted the email as saying: ‘In preparation for the possible announcement of a 12- to 15-year-old healthy child vaccination programme commencing Sep 6, we have been tasked by our national team to request some additional detailed planning information from all systems.’
The emails also said trusts must have plans ready by 4pm on Friday.
But a DHSC spokesperson said: ‘No decisions have been made on vaccinating 12-15-year-olds and it is inaccurate to suggest otherwise.
‘Ministers have not yet received further advice from the JCVI on this cohort. We continue to plan for a range of scenarios to ensure we are prepared for all eventualities.’
And Dr Kevin Barrett, clinical director of West Hill Health primary care network (PCN), and Dr Geetha Chandrasekaran, clinical director of North Halifax PCN, said they had not been asked for any information from NHS England and NHS Improvement to prepare to vaccinate younger people.
It was also suggested jabs could be given to 12-15-year-olds without parental consent.
Professor Russell Viner, professor of adolescent health at University College London and a member of the SAGE group of government advisors, made the claim on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.
He said: ‘We have a standard backstop for the treatment of teenagers, related to the Fraser guidelines, that says that when parents are not available or are opposed to treatment, and a young person needs it or really wants it, then there are legal ways you can assess a young person’s ability to consent.’
Other countries including the US, Germany, France, Italy and Ireland have already begun vaccinating over-12s or making plans to do so.
The news comes as 16-17-year-olds were offered their first Covid vaccine dose this month.
The Moderna Covid vaccine has also been authorised for use in 12-17-year-olds, with the MHRA saying last week that it is ‘safe and effective’ in this age group.
The vaccination campaign has now prevented more than 23 million Covid infections and around 85,000 deaths in England, according to Public Health England figures released earlier this month.