First Minister: School children in Wales could be given vaccine jab ‘later this year’
Schools children as young as 12 in Wales could be given a Coronavirus vaccination later this year, first minister Mark Drakeford has said.
Mr Drakford said the move “might allow us” to lift some of the current restrictions in place in schools such as the wearing of masks.
Pupils in England are no longer required to wear face masks in school but Wales has not yet relaxed the rules.
In an interview with ITV Wales’ Sharp End programme, Mr Drakeford said: “Some of the forms of vaccination are now beginning to get a licence for children, as early as the age of 12.”
“We`re watching that very carefully and if there is a vaccine that gets that licence for use here in Wales, then I think we are very likely to want to take advantage of that.”
“It may be later this year that we will be able to have a programme in our secondary schools of offering those young people a vaccination, which would make schools even safer than they are now.”
It “might allow us to lift some of the other restrictions that we have, wearing of masks in classrooms all the time for example that inevitably makes that learning experience less comfortable than it would otherwise be.” He said.
“We have procured enough Pfizer to be able to offer that jab to children should that be clinically approved here, but given that we are at the stage of opening tomorrow to people aged 37, there is some time to go before we get to 18-year-olds.
”We are on track to meet the target of offering the vaccine to all those aged 18 and above by the end of July, so we have a couple of months before we need to make and operationalise a decision. We want to be very, very careful and sensitive about whether and how we offer the vaccine to children.”
Dr Giri Shanker from Public Health Wales said last week that the issue of facemasks in classrooms was “under active consideration in the technical advisory group and colleagues are collecting all evidence including inputs on Public Health Wales.”
He said: “We will be able to make an informed assessment of whether we can move to non-use of face coverings in school straight away, or we do need some more evidence to accumulate.”
“Clearly we know that the school-age population hasn’t yet been vaccinated and therefore are still at risk of catching and spreading Coronavirus.”
“We have to consider all possible measures that can still remain in place to protect such cohorts of people.”
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