Children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) have said.

The decision takes into account 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.

Previously, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) only recommended jabbing specific young people in this age group, such as those with underlying health conditions, rather than all 12-15-year-olds.

It said that children were at such low risk of serious impact from the virus that the vaccine would only provide a marginal benefit and that there was "insufficient evidence" to recommend vaccinating this group in its entirety.

However, the JCVI acknowledged that it had focussed on the benefits to the young people themselves regarding vaccination, while the UK placed higher relative value on safety compared to benefits. 

The final decision was therefore passed to the CMOs, who brought matters such as the disruption to education into their considerations, something the JCVI had not focussed on. 

And now, the answer is here: the four devolved nations have been recommended to offer the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine vaccine to young people aged 12-15-years-old.

Why has the vaccination of 12-15-year-olds been recommended?

Advising to the Government, the UK’s CMOs said they were recommending vaccines on "public health grounds", stating it was "likely vaccination will help reduce transmission of Covid-19 in schools".

They added: "Covid-19 is a disease which can be very effectively transmitted by mass spreading events, especially with Delta variant.

"Having a significant proportion of pupils vaccinated is likely to reduce the probability of such events which are likely to cause local outbreaks in, or associated with, schools.

"They will also reduce the chance an individual child gets Covid-19. This means vaccination is likely to reduce (but not eliminate) education disruption."

However, they have so far only recommended giving a first dose to young people, and have asked the JCVI to provide further advice on administering 12-15-year-olds with the second dose.