ALL five to 11 year olds are to be offered the Covid vaccine, the First Minister has said, the day after the Welsh Government announced the move.

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the Scottish Government has received JCVI advice recommending the universal vaccination of 5 to 11-year-olds, although the document has yet to be published.

Until Ms Sturgeon's decision this morning only vulnerable five to 11s, or those living with an adult with certain conditions which compromise their immune system, have been eligible to have the jag.

However, many other countries across the world are already offering it to all children in this age group as well as over 11s.

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The First Minister's statement to the press came just hours after her Deputy John Swinney told the BBC the government would wait until the JCVI advice had been published before making an announcement.

He told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We'll take careful account of the JCVI advice and come to conclusions when that is formally received by the Government."

But just three hours after Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland that the govenment would wait until the JCVI published its advice, Ms Sturgeon said: “Although it has yet to be published officially by the JCVI, like colleagues in Wales we have received advice from the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which recommends Covid vaccination for all children aged 5 to 11-years-old.

“I can confirm that ministers have considered this draft advice and are content to accept its recommendations.

"Throughout the pandemic it has been our intention that we follow the clinical and scientific evidence available to us and I’d like to once again thank the JCVI for their hard work in scrutinising the science and providing clear guidance."

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The First Minister said discussions with health board on how to deliver the jags to primary school age pupils were taking place. Parents are to be updated on the arrangements in due course.

“Discussions with Health Boards on the best way of delivering vaccinations to 5 to 11-year-olds have already begun," she said.

"These will continue and we will provide further information when this approach is finalised. In the meantime, parents and carers of children aged between 5 and 11 need not do anything.

“This draft advice does not affect children in the 5 to 11-year-old age group who have specific medical conditions which place them at greater risk from Covid-19. This group is already being vaccinated.”

The UK medical regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), approved the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged five to 11 last year.

The dose approved for children is lower than that used for adults and older children.

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The Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said yesterday she had read the "yet to be published" report by the JCVI and would be rolling out the jab to all children in this age group.

One public health expert, who did not want to be named, reacted to the First Minister's decision today telling The Herald: “Right. Belated. Looks like the Welsh decision has prodded the Scottish Government to act. Still don’t fully understand why the Scottish Government is so deferential towards JCVI.”

The Scottish Greens health and social care spokeswoman Gillian Mackay MSP welcomed today's announcement by Ms Sturgeon.

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government now plans to offer vaccination to children over the age of five, in line with the updated JCVI advice," she said.

“This increased rollout will enhance the population’s protection and also reduce disruption to education.

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“I am sure that parents and carers will be reassured by the extensive attention both the medicines regulator, the MHRA, and the JCVI have given to this rollout.”

Several European nations started vaccinating children aged five to 11 against Covid-19 in December in an effort to contain the pandemic and keep schools open.

Germany, Spain, Greece and Hungary were among those opening up their inoculation drives to this age group, with the Republic of Ireland launching its programme last month.

Over 5.5 million dosages of the vaccine have already been administered to five to 11-year-olds in the US alone.

While most children do not fall seriously ill from Covid, there are concerns about the effects of long Covid on them as well as on their general well-being and education from missing schools if they test positive. It is also not known if any future variants of the virus could present more of a threat to children's health.

There were reports the JCVI announcement of its decision on whether to expand the immunisation programme to younger children has been delayed due to a disagreement with the UK Government.

Responding to questions during a Plenary session at the Senedd on Tuesday, Baroness Morgan called the hold-up a "shame" and "perplexing".

She said: "In relation to vaccination of children, the JCVI has yet to publish its report, although there are lots of clues in The Guardian and other places where there seems to have been lots of leaks come out.

"It's a shame and it's perplexing to understand why that has not been published yet.

"But I have seen a copy of that advice and we will be commencing the rollout of vaccinations for five to 11-year-olds."

The minister did not out a timetable for when youngsters will be able to get the jab, and told Senedd members: "We're not going to do that as a matter of urgency, as we did over the Christmas period. That's partly because the risk isn't as great to that cohort.

"And we're also waiting to hear from the JCVI to see whether they'll need a booster on top of the booster for older age groups in the spring."

She added: "Of course, it's likely to have been a very difficult decision for the JCVI, because generally, children have a milder illness and fewer hospitalisations. But, of course, they have to balance that against the prospect of missing school.

"We have to consider very different issues when it comes to the vaccination of children as young as five years old, of course, so we'll be in a position where we will expect those children to be accompanied by an adult. There will be a need for informed consent, but there will be an opportunity for siblings, for example, to be brought at the same time."

Baroness Morgan said children would receive the vaccine in health centres.

After the announcement, the JCVI said that the vaccine should be offered to at-risk children in this age group. It is yet to announce its decision about wider use among children aged five to 11.

A UK Government spokesperson in Westminster said: "We are reviewing the JCVI's advice as part of wider decision-making ahead of the publication of our long-term strategy for living with Covid-19. More detail will be set out shortly."

It is expected to make an announcement for England next week.