Wales is to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to all children aged between 12 and 15, the Welsh Government has announced.
Eluned Morgan, minister for health and social services, told a Welsh Government briefing she had accepted the advice of the UK’s chief medical officers to offer jabs to children.
She said the Welsh Government would now begin the preparations to invite those eligible to have a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“You will remember last week the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation considered the question of vaccinating all 12 to 15-year-olds and advised against a universal vaccination programme,” she told the Welsh Government briefing.
“After careful consideration, the chief medical officers have recommended offering children and teenagers in this age group the vaccination based on public health grounds, saying it will help to reduce the disruption to their education.
“Today I have accepted this advice and we will now begin preparations to invite 12 to 15-year-olds who have not yet been vaccinated to have a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“And that rollout will start next week.”
Baroness Morgan said the jabs for children would be carried out at mass vaccination centres and some school settings.
“What we are clear about is that those invitations will go out this week and we will start vaccinating next week.”
She said parents were likely to accompany their children to vaccination centres, where they would be given information about the vaccine.
“Then it will obviously be up to the parents and the children together to determine whether they want to receive the vaccine,” she said.
“The vaccine is not mandatory, and people can choose whether to have the vaccine or not.
“There will be appropriate information made available for children and young people and their parents to make up their minds about vaccination.
“Parents or guardians will be asked to give consent. I encourage parents, guardians, children and young people to discuss together whether or not to have the vaccination.”
She also announced an autumn booster campaign would also be taking place with those living and working in care homes, as well as frontline health and social care staff, the first to be offered a third jab.
The option of further lockdowns was being kept “on the table”, she said.
“If we can avoid future lockdowns then of course we will but I’m certainly not going to make any promises because it is important that we understand that this is still a pandemic that we’re in, a situation where we can’t be assured of what’s around the corner, so we will always keep that option on the table.”
Meanwhile, Public Health Wales said a total of 2,368,124 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been given in Wales.
The agency said 2,202,393 second doses have also been administered.
There have been a further 1,924 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 312,292.
Public Health Wales said there had been another five deaths, bringing the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,760.