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Covid jab rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds to start in schools

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Covid jab rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds to start in schools

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-58552769

All children aged 12 to 15 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be offered one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab.

Invitations for jabs will begin soon - parental consent will be sought for the schools-based vaccination programme.

It follows advice from the UK's chief medical officers, who say the jab will help reduce disruption to education.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to set out the Scottish government's plan later.

It is hoped the first vaccinations in England would take place by 22 September, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast.

On Monday, the UK's four chief medical officers recommended the single dose for 12 to 15-year-olds - who are deemed at very low risk from the disease - saying factors such as disruption to education tipped the balance.

Prof Chris Whitty, the lead CMO for the UK, said it was a "difficult decision" and should not be seen as a "silver bullet".

But he said it could be an "important and useful tool" in reducing school disruption in the coming months - and when combined with the marginal health benefit identified by vaccine advisory body the JCVI, it meant offering a Covid vaccine to all children was appropriate.

Mr Zahawi said the School Age Immunisation Service would deliver the "bulk" of the programme, with separate vaccination sites used for schools where this was not possible.

He said clinicians would share information on the vaccine with parents and if there was a difference in opinion between a parent and child, a clinician would bring them together to try and reach a consensus.

However, in the rare cases agreement is not reached, the child could give consent themselves if the clinician considered them "competent", he added.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said some of the union's members had already received letters from pressure groups threatening legal action if vaccination took place in schools.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme any advice to parents and children on the vaccine should come from health professionals rather than teachers to avoid any "unpleasantness" in schools.

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