The Government has ordered additional doses of the Pfizer jab to vaccinate more than 370,000 children against Covid.
The JCVI yesterday advised that children aged 12-15 who are deemed at ‘increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease’ should be offered the Pfizer vaccine, alongside those aged 12-17 who are household contacts of an immunosuppressed person and all those within three months of their 18th birthday.
The health secretary said he had accepted the advice and asked the NHS to deliver this ‘as soon as possible’.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate yesterday afternoon, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed that ‘approximately 370,000 children’ aged 12-15 will be eligible for the jab.
However, this does not include the other groups of young people who will also become eligible after yesterday’s announcement.
And Mr Zahawi added that the decision not to extend vaccination to all 12-15-year-olds ‘was not in any way made taking into consideration volumes of vaccine’.
He said: ‘We have plenty of vaccine available for the vaccination of all children that is necessary.
‘We have ordered more of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the vaccine that was approved. The decision was made by the JCVI based on looking at the data from other countries, and that is the decision that we will implement.’
Mr Zahawi later added that Pfizer supply ‘remains consistent’ and that the Government has ‘every confidence that the manufacturer will continue to deliver, as it has done, according to the delivery schedules’.
He made the comments in response to a question from Scottish National Party MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk Martyn Day, who asked for ‘assurances’ that stock would be ‘sufficient’ as supply ‘looks to be the lowest since February’.
Deputy chair of the JCVI Professor Anthony Harnden yesterday said that supply considerations did not factor into the JCVI’s decision and that the Committee will not consider vaccination in the under-12s until a vaccine is approved by the MHRA for the group.
It comes as NHS England last week said that GP-led vaccine sites will be able to order the Covid vaccines they want when they want them in phase three of the programme, which is due to start in September.
GPs were told that while Covid vaccine stock had been ‘heavily supply-constrained’ during the programme so far, this is no longer the case.