A local health director has said it is ‘great news’ that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use by 12-15 year olds.

Public health director for Blackburn with Darwen, Professor Dominic Harrison has been rallying for vaccinating 12-17 years olds as the virus has taken back hold in the borough, with many cases occurring in school ages children.

The decision as to when the vaccine will be rolled out now lies in the hands of the JVCI, however given the infection rates are continuing to grow in the borough, Professor Harrison is hoping that this decision will be made sooner rather than later.

He said: “It’s clear that if we could start taking the vaccination down into this 12-15 year old cohort we will be able to get the rates of the virus spread and infection down very rapidly.

“The quicker we do it the better – my advice to the Government is just do it.”

In Blackburn with Darwen, the infection rate was at 438.9 cases per 100,000 people in figures up to May 30, with a huge number of those cases being in 12-18 year olds.

Professor Harrison continued: “We know that the age cohort that is now most infected is 12–18-year-olds with some young adult groups such as the 17-18 year olds with extremely high rates.

“We had, at the beginning of this week a rate of over 1050 in 17-18 year olds.

“That group - that is a different pattern of infection compared to what we saw in the previous three waves we’ve had.”

Professor Harrison went on to say that the most infectious age group in the previous waves was 42 which he believes was due to a large percentage of this age group working in forward facing jobs.

Speaking on Twitter after it was announced the vaccine would be rolled out to 12–15-year-olds, he said: “Great news!

“We need to mobilise roll out of this to areas of high variant surges and high and enduring transmission ASAP.

“This will reduce UKs rising risk from the Delta Variant.”

More than 2,000 children aged 12 to 15 were studied as part of the randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials.

There were no cases of the virus from seven days after the second dose in the vaccinated group, compared with 16 cases in the placebo group.

In addition, data on neutralising antibodies showed the vaccine working at the same level as seen in adults aged 16-25.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Following a robust review of the evidence, the MHRA has concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine meets the high standards of safety, effectiveness and quality required and has authorised its use for young people aged 12 to 15.

“The government has asked the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise whether routine vaccination should be offered to younger people aged 12 to 17.

“We will be guided by the expert advisors and will update in due course.”