Children over 12 who are at higher risk of getting ill if they catch Covid will be offered the jab, the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed today.
Also eligible will be teenagers on the cusp of turning 18 and some children over 12 who live with vulnerable people.
It means more than 370,000 children can now be jabbed – but for everyone else, the jab is only available to those close to their 18th birthday or older.
The announcement was a ‘step in the right direction’ but ‘not enough’, according to Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who called on the government to roll out the jabs for anyone aged 16 or 17 years old.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘They are making a move in the right direction.
‘I think they should open it up to all 16 and 17 year olds now. Our infection rate in that age group is very high.
‘Infection rates are just going through the roof.
‘Our problem is that we have the vaccine but we’ve not got people turning up to have them.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It’s an absolutely excellent (campaign).
‘We’re lagging well behind, and I’m told that cities are lagging because we have a high number of young people.
‘We are 10 or 12 percentage points behind the country for getting our second jabs, and that is very big.’
The announcement to begin vaccinating some children was a ‘sensible step’ as local cases among young people are on the rise, according to Helen Atkinson, director of public health at Portsmouth City Council.
The health care boss said: ‘We will be working with local NHS colleagues on how best to deliver vaccinations to this group of young people and will update parents and carers as soon as possible on when and how they can access the vaccination for their child.
‘We're working in partnership with the university to encourage students to get vaccinated, (and) today a pop-up clinic led by Solent NHS Trust has taken place at the university, which has been well attended.
‘Walk-in services are also available at Laly's Pharmacy, Guildhall Square, GoldChem Pharmacy, Southsea, and St James's to allow young people to get vaccinated quickly and easily without the need for an appointment.’