Virologist says 'right thing' would be to offer Covid jab to age 12 and up

4 August 2021, 08:41 | Updated: 4 August 2021, 08:47

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

With the news a Covid vaccine is expected to be extended to include all 16 and 17-year-olds one virologist told LBC the "right thing" would be to offer the vaccine to anyone who is 12 and older.

"I think it's an excellent start, I think the right thing to do is offer the vaccine to anyone who is 12 and up," says Dr Chris Smith, a consultant virologist, lecturer at Cambridge University and presenter of The Naked Scientists radio show.

Read more: Healthy 16 and 17-year-olds set to be offered first Covid jab

Dr Smith branded it a "mistake" not to go "even younger with our offer of the vaccine," as he explained the more people who are vaccinated then the fewer people there are who can pass the infection on.

The expert told Tom Swarbrick this move would help to protect the educations of younger people.

More than 220,000 children in England have already had a Covid-19 vaccine, figures show.

Across the nation, 223,755 under-18s have received the first dose, according to NHS data to July 25.

In June, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi announced that a number of under-18s would be eligible for the jab if they had certain health conditions, lived with someone who is immunocompromised, or were approaching their 18th birthday.

He said at the time that the vaccine experts who advise the Government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), did not currently recommend that children should be routinely given the jab, but that the matter was being kept under constant review.

However, some clinics have already begun vaccinating 16-year-olds at walk-up appointments, provided that they attend with their parent or guardian.

NHS data shows that 79,616 children have had both doses.

The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 has been approved for use in children aged 12 to 17.

Read more: UK hits 85 million jab milestone amid drive to vaccinate young

Read more: One in three young adults in England have not had Covid jab

The JCVI has so far ruled out the mass vaccination of healthy children, but under existing guidance young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious Covid infection should have already been offered a jab.

Children aged 12 to 15 with certain conditions which make them vulnerable to coronavirus can also access the vaccine, as can those aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person, such as a parent or grandparent.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty previously said there was a balance to be struck between vaccinating young people who do not tend to suffer severely from the virus, and ensuring their lives were not disrupted.