The government has confirmed plans to offer COVID-19 vaccines to 16 and 17-year-olds in a news conference this afternoon.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England led the news conference and confirmed the plans to offer vaccines to these age groups.

The JVCI has recommended that all 16 and 17-year-olds are offered their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, those aged 12-15-years-old won’t be offered a vaccine at present unless they have a specific medical reason for doing so. Parental consent will not be needed for any 16 or 17-year-old wishing to have a COVID-19 vaccine.

The decision comes as 86.6% of adults in Herefordshire have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with a total of 73.1% of adults aged over 18 receiving both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Today’s advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) means more young people aged 16 and over can benefit from COVID-19 vaccines. I have accepted their expert recommendations and I have asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate those eligible as soon as possible.

The JCVI have not recommended vaccinating under-16s without underlying health conditions but will keep its position under review based on the latest data.

Those aged 12 to 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as people in this age group who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed, are already eligible for vaccination. JCVI will continue to review data and provide updates on at risk groups aged 12-15 and whether any additional groups will be added.

COVID-19 vaccines have saved more than 60,000 lives and prevented 22 million infections in England alone. They are building a wall of defence against the virus and are the best way to protect people from serious illness. I encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward for both their jabs as quickly as possible.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.