The government is expected to announce the offering of a coronavirus vaccine to some 1.4 million teenagers “imminently”, a minister has confirmed.
Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, universities minister Michelle Donelan said Number 10 was awaiting advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI), which is assessing whether all 16 and 17-year-olds should receive the jab, and that an announcement would be made “shortly”.
The change in policy was first hinted at by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday as she announced that the Scottish government and the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments are “in the same position” in expecting updated recommendations for 16 and 17-year-olds “in the next day or so”.
“We haven’t announced that, what we are doing is waiting for the JVCI announcement,” Ms Donelan told Sky News.
“At every stage throughout the pandemic we have adopted their advice on this, they are the experts of course when we are determining the vaccine rollout and we will await their imminently announcement shortly.”
She then clarified: “We are awaiting the feedback from the JCVI and then we will update accordingly, so we haven’t actually had a change of heart, there’s been no policy announcement, we’re awaiting that JCVI announcement which we’re expecting imminently, and then we’ll make an announcement.”
The vaccine is already available to children aged 12 and over if their health leaves them at higher risk, or if they live with an immunosuppressed person.
Ms Donelan did not answer whether parental consent may be required for teenagers to accept the offer of a jab.
And pushed on whether 18 to 30-year-olds could be offered cash incentives to take up the vaccine, she added that “everything is on the table”.