KIDS as young as five will finally be offered the Covid jab – with the vaccines watchdog expected to give the green light on Monday.
But with the benefits of being immunised “finely balanced” in younger children, parents will not be pushed to get it.
Instead the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will give those aged five to 11 a “non-urgent offer”.
It effectively means they can choose whether to have the Covid shot or not.
Some families are keen to get younger children immunised to make international travel easier.
Until now, the vaccine has only been universally offered to those over 12.
Those below the age of 12 could get the jab, but only if they are clinically vulnerable or live with someone who is immunocompromised.
A senior source said: “It was a finely balanced decision so the solution is a halfway house. Younger children will be able to get the jab, but only if they want it.” The UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has already approved a children-specific Pfizer jab in December saying it is “safe and effective” for use.
But the JCVI still has the final say on whether it should be offered to under-12s.
The EU started the rollout of the vaccine in five to 11-year-olds before Christmas, with millions of youngsters in Germany, France, Italy and Spain now jabbed.
It follows the lead of the U.S. and Israel, who began immunising younger kids in November.
Some experts say the UK is already “past the point” where vaccinating young kids will have any major benefits.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine from the University of East Anglia, said most primary school children have already had coronavirus.
And with rates of infection on their way down, the benefits are limited.
But others feel the jabs will still offer kids extra protection from any future variants.
More than 91 per cent of over-12s have now had at least one jab, with nearly 52.5 million Brits vaccinated.