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Matt Hancock did not ask experts to consider vaccinating children 'until recently'

30 May 2021, 11:40 | Updated: 30 May 2021, 16:52

By Will Taylor

Matt Hancock has only just formally asked the Government's vaccination panel to look into immunising children to Covid, it has emerged.

Dr Maggie Wearmouth, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, declined to say exactly when the embattled Health Secretary wrote to ask for a review.

But she told LBC's Tom Swarbrick on Sunday that it had happened very recently.

"We've only recently had a written request from the Secretary of State to look at this," Dr Wearmouth said.

Pushed on the timeframe, she said: "Very recently. I don't think I want to say that.

"We have not formulated a response yet, put it that way."

It follows a terrible week for the Health Secretary, who was savaged by Boris Johnson's ex-aide Dominic Cummings.

He has denied Mr Cummings' accusations, with the former adviser telling MPs Mr Hancock should have been sacked for lying and failed to protect care home residents.

Read more: 'Only right' to consider if NHS and care staff should be compelled to get vaccine, minister says

The JCVI advises Government policy on how vaccines should be used and was behind the plan to prioritise the most vulnerable and the elderly, who can be worst affected by Covid, before working towards younger people.

"The health secretary has only just written to you to ask to look at it?" Tom asked.

"Formally, yes. We have had one or two conversations but we have not formulated a formal view," Dr Wearmouth said.

The issues surrounding vaccinating children are more complicated, she added, because adults can give consent, and the vast majority of young people are not dying or going to hospital with Covid.

"The answer is really not can we but should we," Dr Wearmouth said. "There are a lot of complexities here."

She said the JCVI "does not pass judgements" on when it is requested to look into vaccination matters.

The Department of Health has been asked for a response.