Updated advice on coronavirus vaccines for 16 and 17-year-olds across the UK is set to be issued in the coming days, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
“We are hoping to receive in the next few days updated advice from the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] on possible vaccination of others in the younger age groups,” she said.
“And we stand ready to implement any recommendations as soon as possible.”
Later in proceedings, Ms Sturgeon said: “We are waiting on JCVI advice. When I say ‘we’, I am obviously referring to the Scottish Government, but the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments are in the same position.”
She added: “First, as a priority, I am particularly hopeful that we will see updated recommendations for 16 and 17-year-olds.
“I am hoping for – possibly veering towards expecting – updated advice from the JCVI in the next day or so.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We continue to keep the vaccination of children and young people under review and will be guided by the advice of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.”
The JCVI is understood to be in the process of finalising its updated advice, which will be provided to the government and the devolved administrations in due course.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “With the JCVI apparently about to give the green light to vaccinating 16-year-olds, ministers need to ensure plans are in place to roll out this vital next stage of vaccination while ensuring parents have all the facts and information they need.”
It was announced last month that clinically vulnerable children and those living with at-risk adults will be offered a vaccine – but most teenagers would not.
The JCVI recommended that children “at an increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease” should be offered a jab.
As a result, children aged between 12 and 15-years-old with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities are being offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Children in the same age range who live with an immunosuppressed person are also being offered a vaccine, along with healthy children who are less than three months away from their 18th birthday.
At the time, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “We will also ask the JCVI to consider rolling out vaccines to all children and young people over the age of 12 and although we are not taking this step today, the JCVI is keeping this matter under review and they will be looking at more data as it becomes available – especially on children with a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.”
This was echoed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who said the JCVI would “consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date”.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last month approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds.
The jab was approved for use in the UK for 16 and 17-year-olds in December.