COVID jags to be rolled out to 16 and 17 year olds
All 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland will be offered a COVID jag by the end of September, in a major expansion of the vaccination programme.
The Scottish Government decision came after the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) moved to update its advice, recommending older teenagers be offered a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The advisory group said that initial inoculation would give good protection against severe illness and around 80 per cent protection against hospitalisation.
From Friday, people who are 16 or 17 in mainland Scotland will be invited to register their interest through the online portal at NHS Inform, and will then be sent an appointment via SMS or email.
Eligible young people in Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles will be contacted by their health board and invited to attend clinics.
Drop-in clinics for the teens will also open soon. Anyone who doesn’t register an interest or attend a drop-in clinic, once open, will be sent an appointment invitation through the post.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said: “In line with the latest JCVI advice we will now be offering a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to young people aged between 16 and 17.
“The programme has always carefully assessed all the benefits and potential risks and offered vaccine to groups where this benefit is clear. The research and evidence shows that is the case for this age group and they should now be called forward for an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We will continue to follow the expert JCVI advice and will await the outcome of analysis of data on second doses for this age group and any additional future advice on vaccination for those in the 12-15 age group.”
Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “This is good news and a step forward that I’ve been hoping for. I also hope evidence will allow JCVI to recommend vaccine for wider groups of young people in future - but in meantime @scotgov will get on with offering it to all 16/17 yr olds ASAP”.
Up until now, children over 12 have only been able to get a jab if they have certain health conditions, live with others who are at a high risk or are nearing their 18th birthday.
Some other countries, including the US, France and Italy, have already been routinely vaccinating teenagers.