SECONDARY schools in Blackburn with Darwen are gearing up to roll out coronavirus jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds.

The vaccination programme for this age group will begin across the borough on Friday October 8.

The Covid-19 jabs will be delivered by the NHS School Age Immunisation Service during the normal school day.

Letters now are being sent to parents and carers of pupils requesting consent.

All council-run secondary schools, academies, special schools and private schools will take part in the programme which should be finished by the October half-term.

Other East Lancashire boroughs are set to follow suit.

The Covid jab is not mandatory and no child aged 12 to 15 will be vaccinated without parental consent.

Cllr Julie Gunn, Blackburn with Darwen Council's education boss, said: “Vaccinating this age group will protect our young people over the autumn and winter when we are all more at risk of infection from coronavirus.

"Our children’s education was been severely impacted over the last 18 months, and we need to do everything we can to keep our young people in school – both for their learning, and for their mental wellbeing.

“Vaccines for 12 to 15 year olds will also prevent transmission within households and the wider community.”

Prof Dominic Harrison, the borough's public health director, said: “Offering the Covid vaccine to 12 to 15 year olds is something I have been lobbying the government for since June when the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approved the Pfizer vaccine as safe for this age group.

“Vaccinating children aged 12 plus will have a particular benefit for Blackburn with Darwen as we have the eighth youngest population aged under 16 in the UK – 23 per cent of our local residents.

“If everyone eligible in every neighbourhood gets vaccinated, herd immunity is a very real possibility. What this will mean as we approach winter is fewer infections, fewer avoidable deaths, and a continued return to normal life.”

Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, the NHS's North-West director of commissioning, said: “NHS staff have been working closely with North-West schools to ensure they are ready to deliver the vaccine to anyone aged 12 to 15.

“The vaccine is safe and effective."