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UK to offer COVID vaccines to 16 and 17-year-olds

A young woman receives the first dose of the vaccine xxxx at the Zendal Hospital on the day the vaccination of young people from 16 years Source: Europa Press

The United Kingdom is set to roll out coronavirus vaccines to youths aged 16 and 17 in the coming weeks, as Spain and Portugal's foreign ministers try to reassure the UK government that travel to their countries is safe. And a contentious new policy debated in Japan's parliament, relating to COVID isolation protocols, is bringing about mixed feelings among its citizens.

The British rollout of vaccines has been one of the world's fastest, with 73 percent of the adult population fully inoculated, and now that vaccination drive is about to be expanded.

The four nations of the United Kingdom have all accepted the change in advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for those in that age group, who are healthy.

Wei Shen Lim chairs that committee. He says there's been feedback from young people who want to have the choice to get the COVID jab.

"We are, as you can imagine, being cautionary in the way we are approaching this. And that's because we place a very high value on the safety of our children and young people. And I believe we do that rightly. And that reflects the public viewpoint as well, that we should regard the safety of our children and young people very highly."

The foreign ministers of Spain and Portugal are seeking to reassure the UK government that travel to their countries is safe, despite the ongoing threat of the pandemic.

The countries rely heavily on British visitors to sustain their key tourism industries and have expressed concern about any tightening of UK restrictions.

Currently those who are fully vaccinated do not have to self isolate when coming into the UK from Spain or Portugal.

Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares saysSpain is one of the countries in the world and within the European Union that's fostering and vaccinating the biggest percentage of its population.

"We are near to 60% already of the population with the whole vaccination done. That shows that we are fighting against the virus and that shows – and if you see the rates of beds that are available in hospitals in Spain so tourists can get medical care if they need – that shows that Spain is a safe country to come here."

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If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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