Following a review of evidence by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has published new clinical guidance on vaccinations for 12 to 17 year olds.

The guidance details that, for those aged 16 to 17 who have had COVID-19 infection, the second vaccine dose should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose, or 12 weeks following a positive COVID-19 test result.

It is also recommended that young people aged 12 to 17 who are not in a high risk group should wait 12 weeks after a positive test showing COVID-19 infection before getting their first (or second in aged 16 to 17) vaccine dose.

The UKHSA have said that deferring the vaccine dose could help to reduce even further the small risk of heart inflammation following vaccination. Current case rates of myocarditis after vaccination among under-18s is rare, with approximately nine in every million vaccinations.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at UKHSA, said: “The COVID-19 vaccines are very safe. Based on a highly precautionary approach, we are advising a longer interval between COVID infection and vaccination for those aged under 18. This increase is based on the latest reports from the UK and other countries, which may suggest that leaving a longer interval between infection and vaccination will further reduce the already very small risk of myocarditis in younger age groups.

Young people and parents should be reassured that myocarditis is extremely rare, at whatever point they take up the vaccine, and this change has been made based on the utmost precaution.

“We keep all advice under constant review and will revise it according to the latest data and evidence.”

As it stands,almost 46 million people in the UK – about 80% of over 12s – have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.