The JCVI considered jabs had to outweigh any potential risks.
Britain said it had decided against giving mass Covid-19 vaccinations to all children and that they would only be offered in certain situations, such as when a young person has underlying health conditions.
Compared with adults, children are much less likely to develop severe illness following infection with the coronavirus.
But the majority of British parents in a survey this month said they favored giving their children a vaccine if offered it.
Children with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and profound and multiple learning disabilities will be eligible for the vaccine in new guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chair of the JCVI, told Reuters that any benefits of vaccines being administered to children had to outweigh any potential risks.
“The majority of children who develop Covid-19 have a mild and self-limiting illness, so we just don’t see the same sort of severity or complication rate as we do in older people. So we have to look very carefully at the benefits of vaccines versus the risk, and the benefits have to be such that they would outweigh the risks.”
Young people within three months of their 18th birthday will also be part of the vaccination program “to allow a lead-in time”, said Harnden.
The JCVI has published its recommendations on vaccinating people age 12-17 against COVID-19.
We're accepting their advice not to vaccinate all under 18s, but offer it to those with a high risk of serious COVID-19 or live with someone immunosuppressed 👇https://t.co/Lxn68Ke4jh
— Welsh Government #KeepWalesSafe (@WelshGovernment) July 19, 2021
One such risk regards emerging evidence of heart inflammation in younger people following the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
However, Britain’s decision is at odds with those taken in countries such as the United States where children over the age of 12 are being vaccinated.
Harnden said the JCVI would monitor the vaccine rollout to children around the world and will review the advice if necessary.
“The risks of these vaccines is emerging evidence that there are cases of heart inflammation, following particularly the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and we want to see what the true incidence rates of those are in the countries which are using it around the world before we would ever recommend universal vaccination in children in this country.”
The British government said fewer than 30 children with the virus died in the United Kingdom up to March this year. (Reuters)