TEENAGERS aged 16 and 17 will be offered a second Covid vaccine dose, it has been announced.
Experts on vaccine and drug safety panels say the evidence shows it is safe for teens to be double jabbed.
The decision came from the Joint The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advised that all 16 and 17 year olds receive their first dose of the Pfizer jab in August.
It has since been looking at the evidence of safety for a second jab.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation for the JCVI, said at a briefing today: "We have reviewed the recent information regarding the safety and benefits of a second dose, and we are advising that 16 and 17-year-olds who have had a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech be offered a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
"As a reminder, the first vaccine dose gives a high level of protection against serious disease, and that high level of protection we know lasts at least 12 weeks."
The second vaccine dose should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose, or 12 weeks following a positive Covid test result, whichever is later.
Prof Lim said: "The second dose reinforces that protection from that first dose and is important for extending that protection, not just for winter but into 2022 and beyond."
It comes as the booster programme is rolled out to people under the age of 50.
All adults over the age of 40 should be offered a booster, six months after their second dose, guidance says.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Chief Executive, Dr June Raine said: “We welcome today’s announcement by the JCVI, on the extension of the booster campaign to 40-49 year olds.
“This further strengthens our ability to ensure people are protected against Covid-19 and saves lives.
“We also welcome the recommendation for 16-17 year-olds to come forward and have a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine."
The MHRA said the vaccines were safe and effective for 16 and 17-year-olds back in December 2020.
“People can be reassured that when we gave approval for the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 years and over in December 2020, we had thoroughly reviewed all the clinical trial data," Dr Raine said.
Professor Lim said: “Booster vaccine doses in more vulnerable adults, and second vaccine doses in 16 to 17-year-olds are important ways to increase our protection against Covid-19 infection and severe disease.
“If you are eligible, please make sure to have these vaccines and keep yourselves protected as we head into winter.”
Side effects in teens
The JCVI has looked at the very latest safety data from the UK and other countries, including some serious side effects including heart inflammation (myocarditis and pericarditis).
The extremely rare conditions had been occurring within a few days of the second dose, typically more in young men.
The JCVI said today that in countries such as Canada and the UK – who have a longer interval between the two doses – rates following the second dose are closer to the reporting rate after the first dose.
Patients have usually recovered in a short time, responding well to treatment and with no major complications so far.
Taking these factors into consideration, JCVI has concluded the benefits of a second jab outweigh any risks for those aged 16 and 17.
It comes as ministers urged people to get boosters when called in a bid to save Christmas.
Government minister Oliver Dowden said it was up to the public whether new controls would need to be imposed.
So far, some 12.6 million people have had a top-up Covid-19 jab.
Mr Dowden said the vaccination programme offers the best assurance that further Covid-19 restrictions will not be needed over Christmas.
The Conservative Party chairman told Sky News: "It is in our hands. If you get the booster when the call comes that is the biggest wall of defence that we have against Covid.
"I am confident that if we stick the course, people take the boosters when they are asked to do so, that vaccine wall will hold up and we will be able to have a decent Christmas this year.
"There are no plans to stop Christmas happening. The huge difference this time is the vaccine."
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