The coronavirus jab is expected to be rolled out to some children after experts recommended making it available to those who are clinically vulnerable or nearing their 18th birthday.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he will deliver a statement to Parliament on Monday on the Government’s response to the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Under current guidance, those aged 16 to 18 can be offered a vaccine if they are clinically extremely vulnerable or at high risk of Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions.
But Mr Zahawi suggested most youngsters will not be offered a jab, indicating that the programme will only be extended to vulnerable children between the ages of 12 and 15 and 17-year-olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday.
Asked if children are to receive a jab, Mr Zahawi told Sky News: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have just delivered their advice; we’ll consider it.
“In fact, after my morning round, we have the Covid O (committee) and then I’ll deliver a statement to Parliament.
“But, suffice to say, they have looked very closely, especially at children who are more vulnerable to serious infection from Covid, children who live with adults who are more vulnerable to serious infection from Covid, and, of course, 17-year-olds who are close to becoming 18 – so three months from their 18th birthday – and we will take that advice before I make a statement to Parliament later today.”
Pressed on why the Government is not looking to vaccinate all children rather than just those who are vulnerable, Mr Zahawi added: “The JCVI are continuing to review that.
“There is new emerging data of children vaccinated in America and elsewhere with a first dose, not yet enough data with a second dose, so they want to look at all the data.”
The minister said there have been cases of inflammation of the heart in some children who have received the vaccine.
“On balance, I think the JCVI are coming down on the side of continuing to review all children, healthy children, but wanting to protect the vulnerable children first,” he added.
The medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has already approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use among children aged 12 and over in the UK.
But officials have not said whether the vaccination programme will be extended to children once the adult campaign is complete.
The Telegraph reports that while only some youngsters will be offered the jab now, the JCVI will leave the door open for more children to be vaccinated once further clinical trials conclude later this year.