Despite recent dips in vaccine supply affecting the coming weeks, the Government has exceeded its own early estimates for how quickly it is rolling out Covid vaccines. With all adults due to receive their first jab by the end of July, thinking inside Whitehall is now turning to the approach that should be taken to vaccinating children.
One source involved in the planning said “it could begin by late summer”, specifically August. A government source familiar with the thinking said August was the “earliest” start.
Only children at very high risk of severe Covid can currently get a jab. Final decisions on whether to vaccinate children will be made once the results of the Oxford trial, testing the AstraZeneca vaccine on 300 children aged six to 17, are released.
Exemptions are expected if a rollout to children is given the final sign-off. It is also likely that parents would have to give consent – currently the position for teenagers in Israel.
Prof Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics at the Bristol Children’s Vaccine Centre and member of the Government’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, said preparations were being made which could allow the rollout of vaccines for children.
He said: “Children constitute close to quarter of the population, so even if we could achieve 100 per cent uptake of vaccines across the adult population, it only gets you to 75 per cent coverage.”
The Department of Health spokesman said: “While clinical trials are under way to test the efficacy and safety of Covid-19 vaccines in children and young adults, these trials have not concluded yet. We will be guided by the advice of our experts on these issues, including the independent joint committee on vaccines and immunisation.”