Children aged 12 to 15 will be vaccinated against Covid in Wales and over 50s will get booster jab

By Mark Smith

All healthy 12 to 15-year-olds in Wales will be offered a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said the Welsh Government will accept the advice from the UK's four chief medical officers who looked at the wider health and wellbeing benefits of vaccination for this age group.

In a joint statement to each of the UK's health ministers on Monday, the four CMOs concluded that vaccination will help reduce transmission of Covid-19 in schools and reduce - but not eliminate - education disruption. For more details please go here.

Speaking on Tuesday during the Welsh Government's press conference, Baroness Morgan said: "I have today accepted this advice and we will now begin preparations to invite 12 to 15-year-olds who have not yet been vaccinated to have a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine."

Earlier this month the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) did not recommend mass vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds. JCVI experts said that Covid-19 presents a very low risk for healthy children so vaccination would only offer a "marginal" benefit.

They said the benefit to health was too small to support a universal vaccination programme but suggested that governments may wish to take further advice on the issue, including the educational impacts.

Meanwhile, booster jabs for frontline healthcare workers, care home residents, over 50s and younger adults with health conditions have been recommended by the JCVI and will now be rolled out across Wales as soon as next week.

The Pfizer jab is recommended, regardless of which vaccine people had previously, and it should be given at least six months after the second dose.

The recommendation from the JCVI comes amid concern about waning immunity. Experts claim there are some signs protection offered by the vaccine may start waning several months after the second dose, with the most vulnerable groups most at risk of this.

Baroness Morgan added: "We have been preparing for an autumn booster campaign over the summer.

"Our NHS is ready to deliver this and we will start next week by offering a booster vaccine to people living and working in care homes and frontline health and social care staff.

"We will then offer it to everyone over 50, all frontline health and social care staff and all those with underlying health conditions – just as we did with the first two doses of the vaccine."

Baroness Morgan reiterated that Wales has very high rates of vaccination thanks to the "hard work of everyone involved in our fantastic programme".

"But there are many people who could be vaccinated who have not yet had a vaccine," she added.

"We are particularly worried about pregnant women who haven’t been vaccinated and would urge them to speak to their midwife about having the vaccine."

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