Guardian News and Media/ London
Children in the UK will get a Covid vaccine only if they are over 12 and extremely vulnerable, or live with someone at risk, as scientists raised concerns about inflammation around the heart linked to the Pfizer jab. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said he accepted the advice of scientific advisers that only children over 12 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities should be allowed to get the Pfizer vaccine.
Children over 12 who live in the same house as people who are immunosuppressed will also be eligible for jabs.
The opinion of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) expands the eligibility for children, after a previous decision that vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds could get vaccinated.
Some ministers had signalled that all over-12s could start a programme of being vaccinated from September, contributing to population-wide immunity against Covid. However, the advisory body said: “The health benefits in this population are small, and the benefits to the wider population are highly uncertain. “At this time, JCVI is of the view that the health benefits of universal vaccination in children and young people below the age of 18 years do not outweigh the potential risks.” The Pfizer vaccine has been authorised for people aged 12 years and over in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. However, the JCVI highlighted “emerging reports from the UK and other countries of rare but serious adverse events, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart), following the use of Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b2 and Moderna mRNA1273 vaccines in younger adults”.
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