A decision to vaccinate all 12 to 17-year-old children against Covid is unlikely to be recommended by UK vaccine experts imminently, the BBC has been told.
Certain groups of children may still be offered a Covid jab – but not all.
A statement from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected in the coming days.
The government will then make a final decision on whether teenagers will be included in the mass rollout.
Vaccinating all over-18s with a first dose and two-thirds of adults with a second dose by 19 July is the latest target set by the UK government.
There has been much speculation over whether children were going to be included in the UK’s vaccination programme against Covid-19 after regulator the MHRA approved Pfizer’s use in 12 to 15-year-olds recently.
But the JCVI – the committee of UK vaccine experts which advises the government on the best approach – has not yet made any formal recommendation on the matter.
Current advice is that 16 to 18-year-olds can be offered a Pfizer jab if they are in a priority group, or live with someone who has a weakened immune system.
The committee may be waiting for more safety data on children who have been vaccinated in other countries, such as the US and Israel, before making its decision.
The MHRA’s approval was based on trials of the Pfizer vaccine in 2,200 adolescents in the US which showed it was safe and effective, but this is a relatively small number.
At the same time, the UK’s stock of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is being prioritised for adults aged 18 to 40 – who are not being offered AstraZeneca – meaning supplies available for children are currently low.
However, for the experts there are a whole host of factors to consider, including the benefits and risks for children, as well as other wider ethical issues.