First Minister says vaccination of 12 to 17 year olds should not be ruled out
The First Minister has said it is "extremely important" that the vaccination of 12 to 17 year olds against coronavirus is not ruled out completely.
Nicola Sturgeon's comments come after it was announced the Scottish Government will follow the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which is that only children aged 12 and over at higher risk of falling ill from COVID will be offered the jag.
That includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine.
However, Sturgeon said at today's COVID briefing that the chief medical officer is writing to the JCVI and asking that the matter is "kept under close and ongoing review".
She said: "The advice yesterday from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on vaccination of 12 to 17 year olds is important... At this stage, given that it considers the risk of 12 to 17 year olds falling seriously ill from COVID to be very low, the JCVI is not recommending that we vaccinate all young people in that 12 to 17 year old age group.
"Now, the Scottish Government has always followed the advice of the JCVI for good reason - you'll have heard me talk about that before in different contexts, including recently that eight week interval between first and second doses.
"But I am acutely aware that some other countries are vaccinating younger teenagers, and I certainly consider it to be extremely important that this is not ruled out here.
"So 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.
"I think that is really important if there is a benefit to be got from vaccinating younger teenagers, then it's really important that we make sure younger people don't lose out on that."
Under existing advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk from COVID-19 should have already been offered vaccination.
The First Minister also confirmed 1,604 cases of COVID have been reported in the last 24 hours. A further 13 deaths of those who have tested positive have been recorded.
Sturgeon said case numbers "remain high" but are on a "downward path". In the seven days up to 2 July, there was an average of 3,305 new cases being reported each day. However, in the seven days up to 16 July, that figure had fallen to an average of 2,112 new cases a day.
That meant Scotland was able to go ahead with its move to level zero on Monday.