Children aged between 12 and 15-years-old in England will soon be allowed to book Covid vaccinations outside of school, the health secretary has said.
Sajid Javid has said the national booking service will be opened to allow children to book appointments in the same way as adults have done, rather than waiting for vaccinators to visit their school.
The i newspaper reports that bookings will be open as early as next week.
The rollout of school-based vaccines in England has been fraught with delays so far, with less than 15 per cent of eligible children in this age group receiving a first dose. The country trails far behind neighbouring Scotland, which has vaccinated 40 per cent.
However, the NHS told TES that children will not be allowed to access their jabs through walk-in centres, as they will be required to book their appointments in advance.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL union, told the magazine: “The key to bringing levels of Covid-19 infection back under control in our schools and colleges is clearly the vaccination programme for 12- to 15-year-olds, but it has not been happening fast enough.
“It was painfully slow to get underway in some areas and has been beset by logistical problems, not to mention being disrupted by the irresponsible actions of anti-vaccination protesters.”
Mr Javid told MPs yesterday: “To make the most of half-term next week, we will now be opening up the national booking service to all 12- to 15-year-olds to have their Covid vaccinations in existing national vaccination centres, which will offer families more flexibility.
“I think it is important that anyone who is invited as eligible for a vaccine, including young people, that they do come forward and take up that offer.”