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Johnson faces possible Tory revolt over child vaccinations

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Boris Johnson will face a Tory revolt in the Commons on Wednesday evening, over a month-long extension of lockdown restrictions (REUTERS)
Boris Johnson will face a Tory revolt in the Commons on Wednesday evening, over a month-long extension of lockdown restrictions (REUTERS)

A rift may be forming between MPs and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) around the vaccination of under-18s.

The Telegraph reported the JCVI plans to recommend against the vaccination of under 18s until more data can be gathered and until more is known about the risks of the vaccine to young people.

This comes after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved the Pfizer vaccine for use among 12-to-15-year-olds in the UK earlier this month, and after the EU, the US and Canada have all started vaccinating teenagers with the jab.

A senior Government source said: “The Pfizer vaccine has been licensed for 12-15-year-olds by the MHRA and a number of countries will be vaccinating children in those age group”

Adding: “Ministers have not received advice and no decisions have been taken”.

Currently all adults 21 and older have been invited to book their jab. NHS England chief executive has said that this will be extended to all over-18s by the end of the week.

But concerns remain over possible shortages of the Pfizer jabs across the country over, and how that could delay the national roadmap to lifting restrictions.

Birmingham City Council leader, Ian Ward told The Telegraph that it was “hard to see how we can safely unlock on 19 July” unless Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are delivered “in the right numbers”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said that there were “no shortages” of vaccines and that vaccines were being delivered on time and as expected.

Last week, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi reassured the public , saying that although vaccine supplies will be “tight” over the coming weeks, he was confident that every adult would receive a first dose before the end of July.

This target has since been pushed forward, with the Government announcing on Monday that all adults in the UK are now expected to receive a first jab by 19 July — the new expected data for lifting coronavirus restrictions in England.

The prime minister could face a Tory rebellion over the delayed lifting of restrictions, however, as MPs in the Commons will be asked to approve the extension of Covid restrictions in England on Wednesday evening.

Matt Hancock is expected to open the debate on the four-week lockdown extension later today, which is intended to allow more older and vulnerable people to receive their second doses of the vaccine amid growing concerns around the now-dominant Delta variant.

The scientific community called for the delay as a precaution to prevent a spike in hospital admissions related to the new, more infectious variant first discovered in India, which experts say doubles the risk of being hospitalised.

Public Health England data show that the number of Delta variant cases had trebled across the UK in a week, with 42,323 cases of the variant in the week to 11 June, up from 12,431 in the week to 3 June.

Hospitalisation due to Covid-19 is currently at its highest level since 7 May, with 1,136 people in hospital on 13 June — an 18 per cent increase over the previous week.

Dozens of Conservative lockdown sceptics are expected to express their frustration with the lockdown extension in a debate ahead of the vote on Wednesday, and to vote against the motion. But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed that his party plans to support the delay, meaning rebel Tory MPs will not be able to defeat the motion.

The hospitality sector is “bitterly disappointed” in the delay, with leaders calling for a postponement to the reintroduction of business rates payments in order to support struggling businesses that were counting on a 21 June reopening.

Scotland has also signalled that coronavirus restrictions would continue, with first minister Nicola Sturgeon saying that the mainland’s move to the lowest level of restrictions will “likely” be delayed by three weeks.

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