Children aged 12 to get Covid vaccine in school buildings if it gets green light

By Aletha Adu

Children as young as 12 will be given their Covid jabs in school as soon as scientists give the Government the green light.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said youngsters up to the age of 15 will always need parental consent before they are jabbed at school except in "rare" circumstances.

Mr Gibb told the education select committee the School Age Immunisation Service aims to deliver these vaccinations through the schools.

"It is the swiftest and most efficient way of delivering the vaccination programme, as with other vaccination programmes for that age group," he said.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, urged the Government "to be very clear that this is a public health decision and not one that should directly involve school staff".

Ministers say using schools to give 12-15 year olds their Covid jabs will be efficient (PA)

He stressed it must not be up to school staff to handle "complex conversations" around topics such as consent.

The UK's chief medical officers are currently reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds, such as minimising school absences.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said offering all teens the jab would "solidify our wall of protection" against the jab while Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools were "ready and eager" to get youngsters vaccinated.

It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) declined to recommend a widespread rollout to the age group on health grounds alone.

With millions of secondary school children back in class this week, ministers are concerned about a spike in Covid infections in coming weeks.

Under the plans, pupils could be offered the jab on school premises by local NHS teams - just as flu jabs have been distributed in primary schools for years - as soon as the following week.

This could mean portakabins in playgrounds, gyms and assembly halls being converted into temporary vaccination centres or pupils given special permission to miss class to get jabs.

It follows reports of a firebreak lockdown being rolled out this autumn in England if there is a new surge in Covid-19 cases.

Downing Street said the firebreak lockdown in England is not being planned for October half-term but noted there are “contingency plans” for a “range of scenarios”.

Mr Javid is said to be pressing ahead with plans to make the Covid vaccine a requirement for all NHS staff with a long-promised consultation launched this week.

The Government believes that making the vaccines a condition of employment would help limit the spread of Covid in healthcare settings, as well as the number of deaths.

But there are fears the plan could cause a staff retention and recruitment crisis in healthcare.

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