Britain to offer combined dose of COVID - 19 vaccine

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LONDON, Aug 4 - Britain will offer to all 16 and 17 year olds a combined dose of Pfizer COVID - 19 vaccine, on Wednesday vaccine advisers said, extending eligibility of the shots to children beyond the clinically vulnerable.

Britain's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said it was updating initial advice given last month in light changes in the spread of the disease in younger groups and latest safety data that was available.

After carefully considering the latest data, we recommend that healthy 16 to 17 year-olds be given a first dose of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. The first vaccine dose will be a year later said Wei Shen Lim, COVID Chair of the JCVI, in his reply.

While COVID 19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and for this particular age group we expect one dose of the vaccine to provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.

JCVI said that the benefits of keeping children healthy and at school were paramount, however there would also be positive impacts on society more broadly.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid accepted the advice.

The United States of America has taken a much more cautious approach to vaccination than in the United States and Israel, which have pushed on with a broad roll-out of under 18 s.

The Chief Medical Officer of England has stressed the need for a full picture of safety data of the shots, given extremely low rates of severe outcomes for the disease in that age group.

The JCVI said it took a precautionary approach on 19 July when it originally decided not to offer vaccines to children more broadly.

It maintained previous guidance that children ages 12 to 15 with specific health conditions should also get vaccines.