CHILDREN aged 12 to 15 who are “at increased risk of serious consequences from Covid-19" are to be offered the vaccine after updated advice from clinical experts.

The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations (JCVI) is now advising that children at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus should be offered the Pfizer vaccine.

The JCVI advice includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.

The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine to indirectly protect their household contacts.

Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith, confirmed the advice will be taken up by the Scottish Government.

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He said: “In line with the JCVI’s most recent advice, children and young people aged 12 to 15-years old who have particular underlying conditions that put them at increased risk of serious consequences from Covid-19 will now be offered the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Children and young people aged 12 years and over who are household contacts of people who are immunosuppressed will also be offered the vaccine. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to follow the expert advice from the JCVI.

“Work is underway to deliver this in the forthcoming weeks.”

The Scottish Government has now offered the first dose of the vaccine to everyone aged 18 and older – and has refuted claims by Labour that its flagship target to do so by July 18 has been missed.

Labour’s health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, had claimed that only 90% of over 18s have been jagged, based on estimated population data.

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Ms Baillie has pointed to comments made by the First Minister last month that by July 18, “all adults will have had the first dose of vaccine”.

Throughout the vaccine rollout, the Scottish Government’s targets have been based on the vaccine being offered to certain groups of people by given dates.

Ms Baillie said: “The Government’s failure to meet this key target is purely down to their own complacency on vaccinations. We have been calling for mass vaccination centres months before any action was taken.

“The programme has been in decline for weeks now – but instead of ramping things up to hit this important milestone the Government have sat back and watched as rates collapsed, insisting there’s not a problem.”

She added: “We are at an absolutely crucial juncture in the vaccine roll-out, but the SNP seem to have clocked off early.

“Now our journey out of lockdown is in jeopardy once again because of their incompetence.

“We need to get to grips with the barriers that have stopped that last ten per cent of people from getting vaccinated - but the SNP are more concerned with making excuses than finding solutions.”

But the Scottish Government confirmed that all people aged 18 and older have been offered the first dose of the vaccine.

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A spokesperson said: “The vaccination programme has been a huge success with 89.1% of the adult population (18+) having received their first dose - far beyond our planning assumption of 80% - and 66.7% their second.

“We want to thank everyone who has taken up the offer of a vaccine and of course, all those who have worked on the programme since day one. Drop-in clinics continue to operate or you can arrange an appointment at a time and location to suit at NHS Inform.

“We continue to urge anyone who has not yet come forward to do so as there is no doubt that vaccination represents our best way out of the pandemic and the best way to protect ourselves, our family and friends and our communities.”