Jabs for 12-15 year olds and boosters for over 50s have been given the green light in Wales.
Third doses will be offered to anyone over the age of 50, to all frontline health and social workers, and to anyone with underlying health problems.
Both programs will start next week, with reminders given to residents and caregivers and NHS workers first.
Young adolescents will be offered a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The move follows recommendations from top UK medical advisers that it will help reduce disruption to schools.
The Welsh government wants to vaccinate all 12-15 year olds who want a vaccine by mid-October.
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It will be up to children and parents if they decide to get vaccinated. It is estimated that there are 135,604 in the age group in Wales.
To date, more than 2.3 million people have received a dose of a coronavirus vaccine in Wales, while 2.2 million have received both vaccines.
This includes nearly 56,000 young people aged 16 to 17 who have accepted the offer of their first jab, the equivalent of 66% of the age group.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said parents should weigh the “risks and benefits,” but she warned that the evidence showed that one in seven children with coronavirus could develop Covid for a long time.
“The main concern for us is that we don’t want to disrupt the schooling of children more than it has. [been] already, ”she said.
Ms Morgan said the NHS was ready to provide reminders and would start next week for people living and working in care homes, and frontline health and social service staff.
It will then be offered to anyone over the age of 50, she told a press conference. About 1.6 million people in Wales can benefit from the program.
Gillian Richardson, deputy chief medical officer for vaccines, said scientific advice would determine whether those under 50 receive boosters and whether more vaccines would be needed.
She said, “We’ll wait and see what JCVI [Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation] said about younger groups as science advances and whether the recall campaign needs to be extended.
“Then we’ll also rely on the science to find out how often… if we need an annual program or a biannual program or whatever. “
‘A good thing’
Visitors to Batty’s Nurseries in Penrhyn Bay, County Conwy, rejoiced at the opportunity to have an encore jab.
Alan Brierly, 81, said: “I think that’s a good thing – we need all the help we can at our age. ”
Barbara Jones said: “I’m over 80, so I’m quite relieved that we have an encore this winter…
“Anything that will make things better for our age group – I totally agree. “
Announcing the plan on Tuesday, Ms Morgan also expressed concerns that pregnant women did not show up for Covid vaccinations, urging them to seek advice from their midwife.
Wales’ vaccination program is in line with plans for the other three UK countries and vaccines for 12-15 year olds have been confirmed in England.
Government vaccine advisers made their recommendations on booster jabs on Tuesday morning.
Pfizer jab is recommended regardless of what vaccine people have previously received, and it should be given at least six months after the second dose.
Ms Morgan said the time it took for the recall advice to be given was “rather frustrating”.
She said the Welsh government had been ready to go “for several weeks” and that counseling for young teenagers had also taken “longer than we had hoped”.
Where will the children be bitten?
School principals expressed concern that they should not be involved in the implementation of immunization programs.
On Tuesday, the health minister said most of the vaccines would “probably” take place in mass vaccination centers, but others would also be given in “some of the larger schools”.
She said parents who accompany their children to mass immunization centers will receive the “pros and cons” of the vaccine so they can make informed decisions together.
Those who receive it in a school will receive a letter sent home to parents or guardians.
Will parents or children consent?
16 and 17 year olds can consent to treatment on their own without parental involvement.
Parents or guardians will be asked to give their consent for children under 16 to have the jab.
Those under 16 can also give their consent themselves, but only if they are assessed as having sufficient understanding, intelligence and skill to make that decision.
The Welsh government has said that if a child and parent disagree on the vaccine, authorities will “follow the law and best practice in respecting children’s rights and parental responsibility”.
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“This will give children normalcy”
Huw Powell, principal of Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff, said the jab would keep students in school and give them “normalcy”.
He told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast: ‘I think anything that keeps students in school, anything that allows them to avoid the upheavals that we have seen for them over the past 18 months, it is a positive thing.
“As a school, anything that keeps students in school is positive and we would love to see that happen.
“We need the students at school, they have to be there, they have to be educated. “
But he said the school will respect the choice of any child or parent who decides not to be vaccinated.
“Protect those around us”
Siân-Elin Melbourne, a counselor and teacher from Cardiff, has a 14-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son.
Her son has already received a vaccine and the family discussed the importance of getting the vaccine.
She said: “As a family we felt we needed to get the vaccine. My husband has diabetes, so it was very important that we put things in place to protect him. We also have elderly parents.
“It’s not just about protecting ourselves, it’s about protecting everyone around us. We have a responsibility to make sure we do it. “
But she said it was ultimately her daughter’s choice to get the vaccine.
Ms Melbourne added: “The most important thing for her is that she doesn’t want to miss school anymore. If she can make sure by having this injection that she won’t have to miss school, then that is definitely a benefit to her. “
- Coronavirus pandemic
- Coronavirus vaccines
- Welsh Government
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The Green Light article for reminders and vaccines for young adolescents first appeared on zimo news.