Boris Johnson has sent a message to parent as the UK’s vaccine rollout was extended to 16 and 17-year-olds.

Government advisors at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) shared the guidance today.

Experts have said offering a Covid-19 vaccine to 16 and 17-year-olds could reduce transmission of the virus and limit disruption to their schooling.

Why is it only 16 and 17-year-olds?

The head of the MHRA has said it will “continue to scrutinise” vaccine data as the first wave of teenagers come forward to get their covid-19 jabs.

Dr June Raine told a Downing Street briefing the MHRA was monitoring the vaccine through the yellow card scheme to report side effects, but “with other sources of data used in a proactive way”.

“We welcome reports of any suspected side effect through a yellow card scheme, so a big message there, please do report,” Dr Raine said.

“But, overall, our advice remains that the benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks for the majority of people, and the vaccine benefits in children and young people aged 12 to 15.”

Health Secretary accepts new guidance

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid accepted the JCVI recommendation and has asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate 16 and 17-year-olds “as soon as possible”.

He said in a statement: “Today’s advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) means more young people aged 16 and over can benefit from Covid-19 vaccines.

“I have accepted their expert recommendations and I have asked the NHS to prepare to vaccinate those eligible as soon as possible.

“The JCVI have not recommended vaccinating under-16s without underlying health conditions but will keep its position under review based on the latest data.”

Boris Johnson’s message to parents

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said families should listen to the advice of experts about extending the vaccination programme to children.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Scotland, he said:  “I think it’s very important that everybody in politics listens first to the clinicians and to the medical experts.

“I would just urge all families thinking about this across the country to listen to the JCVI, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and immunisation.

“They are extremely expert there, they’re amongst the best if not the best in the world, they know what’s safe and I think we should listen to them and take our lead from them.”