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First Minister confirms decision to vaccinate 12-15 year olds

By David Porter

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The JCVI has concluded that the benefit of vaccination for 12-15 year olds outweigh any risks, but that because this was marginal they could not recommend a universal offer of vaccine to this age group on health grounds alone.

However, they indicated that it would be appropriate for Chief Medical Officers to consider whether any wider issues might tip the balance in the other direction.

The CMOs have now done so and concluded that vaccination could reduce disruption to education and that, taken together with the health benefits previously identified in the JCVI advice, extending the offer of vaccination to all 12 to 15 year olds is justified.

Taking this broader view of the benefits and risks of vaccination, the CMOs are recommending that 12 to 15 year olds should be offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

This advice has been broadly endorsed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Addressing Holyrood on the issue today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I am very grateful to all of the four Chief Medical Officers for assessing the evidence on this issue with such pace and also with such rigour.

"I can confirm to Parliament today that the Scottish Government welcomes and accepts this recommendation.

"We believe that vaccination of 12-15 year olds is important and we will therefore move to implement the advice as quickly as possible.

"Our supplies of vaccine are adequate to allow us to do this.

"It is, of course, important to stress how important informed consent is.

"I know that many young people and their parents will have questions.

"Material will be made available online later this week.

"It will be appropriate to both young people and adults.

"It will seek to answer questions and provide balanced information to help young people and their parents make informed choices.

"And I can confirm that from Monday September 20, so Monday coming, drop in clinics will be open for any 12 - 15 year old who has read the information and - in discussion with parents and carers – decided that they do wish to be vaccinated.

"It will of course be appropriate for parents or carers to accompany their children to clinics, and vaccinators will be on hand to answer any further questions or address any concerns.

"And then, starting in the following week - so week beginning September 27 - letters will be sent to all 12 to 15 year olds inviting them to an appointment at a drop-in centre or vaccination clinic.

"Again, parents and carers will be invited to accompany their children. And again the appointment will include an opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns.

"Finally, after the scheduled community sessions, there will be a programme of vaccination in schools, to ensure that anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated, and who decides that they want to be, gets a further opportunity."

She continued: "I know that these are important decisions for young people and their parents, and that many will have questions.

"I would encourage everyone to read the information that will be provided, and do not hesitate to visit a drop in clinic to ask any questions or raise any concerns.

"Vaccination is a vital part of our overall protection against this virus.

"That is why it is important to support people – perhaps especially young people - to make informed choices that they feel comfortable with.

"In addition to the CMO advice on 12-15 year olds, we have received this morning the final JCVI advice on a vaccine booster programme.

"This is in addition to the third doses already being offered to people who were severely immunosuppressed or immunocompromised at the time of their first or second vaccination.

"I can confirm that the Scottish Government is also accepting this advice, and again we have adequate supplies to move ahead with this.

"The booster programme is intended to prolong the protection that vaccines provide against severe Covid illness.

"It will run alongside our biggest ever flu vaccine programme – since, of course, both of these programmes are important for individual and for public health.

"Wherever possible, eligible people will be offered Covid and flu vaccines together.

"Booster vaccines will be offered to all adults over 50; to frontline health and care workers; and to younger adults with certain health conditions that put them at higher risk; and to adult household contacts of people with suppressed immune systems.

"The JCVI has also advised that there should be an interval of at least six months between a second dose and a booster dose.

Frontline health and social care workers will be able to book their booster appointment online through NHS Inform from Monday September 20

Also from next week, residents in care homes for older people will be offered both flu and Covid booster vaccines.

Adults aged 70 or over, and everyone aged over 16 on the highest risk list will be contacted very shortly, either by letter or by their GP.

Other eligible groups – that’s all adults over 50, all those 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions, adult carers, unpaid and young carers, and adult household contacts of people who are immunosuppressed - will be able to book online from October.

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