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More than a million children and young people can get the COVID jab in the latest stage of the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history.
The NHS has worked to rapidly extend the programme to 16 and 17 year olds, the country’s most vulnerable children and those who live with vulnerable adults following changes in guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
All 16-and-17-year olds will be offered one jab dose of the vaccine, under the new guidance issued by the JCVI earlier this week.
Initially, they should wait to be contacted by their GP to arrange an appointment although walk-in services will be soon be available to everyone aged 16 and over.
While children and young people can get coronavirus, there are fewer cases compared to adults and symptoms are usually mild.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS medical director for primary care and deputy SRO for the vaccine programme said: “NHS staff have delivered 70 million COVID-19 vaccines across England in just over seven months, giving protection against coronavirus to more than 39 million people and saving thousands of lives.
“The NHS has also worked hard to put the JCVI guidance into action as swiftly as possible and I am pleased to say that one million children and young people will now be able to get the vaccine, protecting themselves, their family and their friends.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and I urge anyone eligible of any age to come forward and take up the offer.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said: “COVID-19 vaccines have saved more than 60,000 lives and prevented 22 million infections in England alone. They are building a wall of defence against the virus and are the best way to protect people from serious illness.
“The NHS have worked hard to put the JCVI’s independent and expert advice into action to roll out this new stage of our ground breaking vaccination programme. Now all 16 and 17 year olds can join the rest of the country and get their jab to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to COVID or live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus will be contacted by the NHS and invited for their vaccine over the coming weeks.
Those who are eligible include those with Down’s syndrome, or undergoing many cancer treatments, have had organ or bone marrow transplants or who are on the learning disability register.
The COVID-19 vaccine will also be offered to children aged 12 years and over who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, such as those receiving chemotherapy or who have had a transplant.
Children and young people now eligible will be offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The largest vaccination programme in NHS history continues, with more than 39 million people now having had at least one dose – around nine in 10 adults – and well over 30 million people fully vaccinated against COVID having received two doses.
In recent weeks, people have been able to ‘grab-a-jab’ at a number of pop-up clinics and walk-in centres in shops, parks or at locations like Thorpe Park.
Jabs have also been available at events like the British Open, Ascot and Latitude Festival. Friday 16th and Saturday 17th July saw a surge in second doses, with 15% more people getting their final jab compared with the weekend before.
More than 70 million vaccinations have been delivered since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, in December 2020.
Everyone aged 18 or over is eligible for a lifesaving COVID-19 jab and the NHS is urging people to come forward as soon as possible booking via nhs.uk or visiting their nearest walk-in centre.
Second doses are available to people who had their first dose eight weeks ago, in line with JCVI guidance.
Anybody who cannot go online can instead call the service on 119 to book their jab.