The UK medical watchdog has given the go ahead for the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to be given to children aged 12 and over.

It is the second Covid-19 jab to be authorised for those aged between 12 and 17, the Pfizer vaccine being the first.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that it is up to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise the Government on whether children in this age group should receive the Moderna jab.

The MHRA said the jab, also known as the Spikevax vaccine, is “safe and effective in this age group”.

Currently, some children aged 12 to 15 are only offered the Pfizer Covid-19 jab if they are considered to be clinically vulnerable.

"Safe and effective"

In England this week it was announced that all 16 and 17-year-olds will be given the chance to book a slot for their first jab before 23 August.

Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: “I am pleased to confirm that that the Covid-19 vaccine made by Moderna has now been authorised in 12 to 17-year-olds. The vaccine is safe and effective in this age group.

“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12 to 17-year age group.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We welcome the news that Moderna’s vaccine has been approved as safe and effective for people aged 12 and over.

“As has been the case with all other approvals, we will now be guided by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and have asked for its formal recommendation on whether to administer this vaccine to people aged 12 to 17.

“All young people aged 16 to 17, clinically vulnerable children aged 12 to 15 and people who live with adults who are immunosuppressed will be offered a first dose of a Pfizer jab by Monday 23 August.”

There has been much speculation as to whether the vaccination programme will be extended to include all children aged 12 and over.

The UK has taken a more cautious approach to routinely offering the jab to younger children despite other countries successfully vaccinating children for some time.

Vaccination experts have said they will await more data before advising ministers.

Officials have only recently confirmed that 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to have the Pfizer vaccine.

Children receiving their first dose by August 23 will have built up some level of protection in time for the new school year starting in September.

The Moderna jab had already been approved for use in children aged 12 and over in Northern Ireland under an extension of the approval from the European Medicines Agency in July.