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Greater clarity needed on vaccines for 12-17 year olds, says Bradshaw

Greater clarity is needed from the UK Government on advice it is receiving from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) concerning vaccinations for teenagers, Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said.

The UK Government’s Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the JCVI has recommended children who are either almost 18, vulnerable or who live with those who are vulnerable should be offered vaccines but a decision on whether to jab others aged 12-17 would be kept under review.

“While any such step is welcome in principle, this seems a remarkably complex way to go about it,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“At least one member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has already stated vaccinations for all over-12s will be necessary in order to reach so-called herd immunity. This appears to jar, at least partially, with the more limited recommendation from the JCVI.

“The question which arises is whether we will have the reasoning behind the JCVI recommendation published. If, eventually, we are going to move towards all over-12s being vaccinated, why would we take such a complex step right now? Does the UK have supply to complete the vaccination programme to include all over-12s? Would it not be wise to ensure all teenagers and young adults are fully vaccinated before the resumption of term in schools and in further and higher education?

“We have seen the JCVI advice on booster vaccinations published, and we must have its advice on vaccinations for younger people published similarly so we can best assess what next steps should be taken in Northern Ireland.”