This decision is in spite of the government’s vaccine group saying that vaccines only marginally benefit this age group.
The United Kingdom had decided to move forward with recommending the COVID-19 vaccine in teens aged 12-15.
Collectively, the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decided to recommend teens be given a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
This decision comes after the government body, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) in the UK, said the benefits slightly outweighed the known side effects, earlier this month.
“The health benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms,” the JCVI said in a statement earlier this month.
“However, the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12 to 15 year olds at this time.”
The JCVI explained that the majority of cases in children were either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic without the need for treatment or hospitalization. For those children who do require hospitalization, the majority of them have underlying health conditions.
In those with underlying health conditions, JCVI said these children should be offered the vaccine. The range of underlying health conditions that apply has recently been expanded.
The UK is trying to avoid a lockdown and is battling an increase in cases and hospitalizations. As such, the Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi will accept the countries’ CMOs recommendation and begin vaccination in this pediatric population next week.
This is part of the UK’s overall strategy to avoid lockdowns going into the winter, and Zahawi said, “lockdowns will be an absolutely last resort.”