Sturgeon: Vaccines for younger teenagers not ruled out

First minister previously indicated that teen Covid vaccination could minimise further disruption to schools

Tes Reporter

Covid and schools: Covid vaccine for younger teenagers should not be ruled out, says Nicola Sturgeon

Vaccinating all younger teenagers against Covid should not be ruled out, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland's first minister said the country's chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith, would be writing to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to highlight the benefits of vaccinating everyone over the age of 12, and to urge the JCVI to keep the issue under review.

Many pupils in Scotland are due to return from the school summer holidays in mid-August.

Previously, Ms Sturgeon has indicated that “vaccination may well be an important way of giving children greater protection, minimising any further disruption to schooling, and further reducing community transmission of the virus”.

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The JCVI has ruled out mass vaccination of healthy children for now but has updated its advice to enable 12- to 15-year-olds with specific underlying health conditions to receive the Pfizer vaccination. Those aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person, such as a parent or grandparent, should also be offered a Covid vaccine.

Covid: Vaccinating all teenagers 'needs to remain an option'

At a Scottish government Covid-19 briefing this afternoon, Ms Sturgeon said it is “extremely important” that vaccinating all 12- to 17-year-olds is not ruled out entirely.

“To that end, the chief medical officer is writing to the JCVI asking that the benefit of vaccinating all 12- to 17-year-olds is kept under close and ongoing review and that it takes account of all available data from countries already doing this,” the first minister said.

“I think that is really important – if there is a benefit to be got from vaccinating younger teenagers then it's really important to make sure that young people don’t lose out on that.”

In June, Ms Sturgeon said that “if the JCVI recommends the use of the vaccine for children aged 12 and over, we will move as quickly as possible to implement the advice”.

The latest figures for Scotland show that 13 coronavirus deaths and 1,604 new cases were recorded in the previous 24 hours.

It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – stands at 7,813.

Speaking the day after Scotland moved to the lowest level of Covid restrictions, Ms Sturgeon said that, despite a decline in cases of more than a third in recent weeks, case numbers were “higher than we should be comfortable with”.

“Vigilance and care remain very important,” she said.

“Restrictions were eased yesterday as part of a gradual process, but restrictions were not abandoned yesterday.

“Important measures and mitigations do remain in place and we continue to ask people across the country, and I do so again today, to treat the threat that Covid poses seriously at this stage.”

If people do not take up the offer of the vaccine, there will be a vulnerability to Covid-19, she added.

Ms Sturgeon urged all young people to get the vaccine, after recent figures showed that, of people in the 30 to 39 age group, just 81 per cent have received their first dose, while the number is 70 per cent in the 18- to 29-year-old group.

“To put it bluntly, each and every young person who gets jagged helps us take a step back to normality, and, of course, the converse of that is true,” she said.

“For as long as there remains a proportion of eligible people who have not had the vaccine, that leaves us with a vulnerability against the virus.”

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