Lancashire's director of public health backs vaccinations for 12-15 year olds
Lancashire's director of public health has backed plans to vaccinate all children between the ages of 12 and 15.
The UK's four chief medical officers (CMOs) say children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The decision takes into account the "extremely powerful" evidence on the impact of the pandemic on children's education as well as the risks to their mental health from missing school.
The move means that around three million children could be eligible for the jab and comes despite the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) deciding not to recommend mass vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds.
It is expected the vaccinations could be given through schools as soon as possible once the advice has been considered by the Government.
The JCVI had said Covid-19 presents a very low risk for healthy children and vaccination would only offer a marginal benefit.
But they suggested that the wider issues, such as education, should be taken into consideration and examined by CMOs.
At a Downing Street press conference, Professor Wei Shen Lim, from the JCVI, said there was "no conflict" between the advice provided by the JCVI and that from the CMOs, adding that the JCVI had looked at jabs from a health perspective.
England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said it had been a "difficult decision" regarding vaccinating children but CMOs would not be recommending the jabs "unless we felt that benefit exceeded risk".
He added: "In a sense, what we're not trying to do is say to children 'you must, must, must, must, must' but what we're saying is that we think on balance the benefits both at an individual level and in terms of wider indirect benefits to education and through that to public health are in favour, otherwise we would not be making this recommendation."
And Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: "I welcome the decision by the UK's chief medical officers (CMOs) to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to all 12-15-year-olds.
"I am sure our four CMOs gave a lot of careful consideration to this decision and took a broad view when looking at the public health impacts of the pandemic on our children.
"I fully support this decision and believe it is good news for the children of Lancashire.
"Vaccinating 12-15-year-olds will bring a number of health benefits over and above hospitalisations with COVID, including reducing the number of children suffering from COVID but not requiring hospital admission. It will also address the wider impacts of the pandemic that our children and young people have had to contend with.
"Taking this action will help reduce transmission of COVID-19 in our schools, minimising the disruption to our children's lives and education, as well as the livelihood of their families.
"We now await further details of when we can begin to offer vaccinations to this age group."