Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
2 September 2021updated 05 Sep 2021 10:55am

England is far behind other countries on vaccinating teenagers

As schools return, only 13.3 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received at least one vaccine dose.

By Ben van der Merwe

With schools reopening across England this week, government scientists have described a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases as “highly likely”.

One reason given by the scientists is the extremely low rates of vaccination among school-age children. In England, no more than 13.3 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds had received at least one vaccine dose by 22 August, according to a New Statesman analysis of government data.

England is far behind other countries on vaccinating teenagers
Share of 12- to 17*-year-olds that have received at least one dose

Although England’s vaccination of under-18s has increased in recent weeks, the damage is done. It will be at least eight weeks before those currently receiving their first dose are able to receive their second, and a further two before they are fully protected.

That means at least 87 per cent of English 12- to 17-year-olds will not be fully protected until after half-term. If vaccinations continue at their current rate, no more than 48 per cent will be fully protected by Christmas.

The risk of death from Covid-19 is exceedingly low for young people, but the virus can cause severe illness. More than 40 under-18s are currently being hospitalised each day due to Covid-19, a number expected to increase as the virus makes its way through schools.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

High rates of infection among young people also risks providing an incubator for future mutations, and a base from which it may spread to more vulnerable groups.

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) only approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in 16- to 17-year-olds on 4 August, with the government beginning the roll-out three weeks later. Children aged between 12 and 15 are expected to be offered the jab in September.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up