United Kingdom

Nearly one million children have now had the Covid vaccine

Nearly a million children have received a Covid jab, the latest official figures show. It is being given to 12 to 15-year-olds after the UK's four chief medical officers said everyone in the age group should be offered the Pfizer vaccine.

So far, 912,446 under-18s have received the vaccine, according to the Government. It comes after England's Chief Medical Officer said about half of children have already had Covid – and 'virtually all' will get the virus without the jab rollout.

Professor Chris Whitty added that the high proportion of children who have had Covid was no reason to hold off jabs because immunity would wane. He added that jabs were the key to keeping schools open and reducing disruption to lessons.

But last night, Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chairman of the education select committee, said he has been told of schools sending children home when someone tested positive for Covid, despite the rollout.

15 year old Quinn Foakes receiving a Covid-19 vaccination at Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Ministers had been pushing for all children aged 12 to 15 to be included in the rollout, having already given the go-ahead to those with underlying health conditions.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had initially advised against extending the rollout to all children in the age group and said Ministers should seek advice from the chief medical officers. After giving the green light, Prof Whitty told MPs that his decision was 'completely medical'.

Data published yesterday revealed that 48,699,874 first doses of the vaccine have been administered in total in the UK, up 26,964 on Friday, with 44,692,956 people getting second doses. Another 31,348 people tested positive for the virus and a further 122 died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid.

MPs have also raised concerns about parental consent as part of the jabs rollout to children. Schools will send forms seeking permission. However, pupils will also have a say and in some cases can override their parents, though the Government has insisted this would apply 'very rarely'.

Last night, Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned that schools might 'put pressure on the children to have the jab' and that parents should be given the final say.

The former Tory leader also said the Government should publish separate figures for the numbers of children being jabbed, instead of adding them to the total daily number of everyone vaccinated.

He said: 'Anyone below 18 should be treated as a separate category.'

By publishing figures for all ages together, the UK had fallen down the league tables of the proportion of eligible people who had been double vaccinated. He said: 'We have widened the number of people who are eligible for the jab. It doesn't look great to have been at the top and now to fall down the league tables.'

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Oxford University colleges have asked students to disclose whether they are fully vaccinated against Covid.

Emails seen by Cherwell, the student newspaper, showed the St Edmund Hall and Lincoln College asking the students about their vaccination status.

The colleges said they wanted to know what proportion of students were vaccinated to keep track of who needed to self-isolate.

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