BOOSTER jabs for the over-50s and vaccines for teenagers could be green-lighted in the “next few days”, Sajid Javid has said.
The health secretary insisted he expects to receive decisions on pressing ahead with both new phases of the rollout imminently.
And he also announced that 12-15 year olds will be able to overrule their parents to get the shot.
A decision on how best to use booster shots is set to be taken by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
It is waiting for the results of a study on mixing and matching different vaccines before delivering its recommendation.
But the JCVI has kicked the call on whether to jab schoolchildren up to the chief medical officers of the four UK nations.
Mr Javid said he would “expect to hear” the outcome of both independent reviews “in the next few days”.
He added: “I’m confident that we can start the booster programme this month.”
Ministers have previously said the NHS is ready to go into schools and start giving out jabs as soon as they’re green-lighted.
The health secretary also announced that kids will be able to get the shot without the say-so of their parents if necessary.
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He insisted consent will always be sought from mums and dads as it has been “for decades”.
In cases of disagreement an expert will “sit down with the parent and the child and try to reach some kind of consensus”.
But he added: “If ultimately that doesn’t work, as long as we believe the child is competent enough to make this decision then the child will prevail.”
Boris Johnson is said to have grown increasingly frustrated at the delay to rolling out booster jabs and vaccines for kids.
He wants to “crack on” with getting shots in arms to help ward off a winter wave and the need for more restrictions.
But scientists have taken a cautious approach on both counts.
Some have warned rushing into booster jabs before they’re absolutely essential could leave people vulnerable to new variants.
AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot also warned such an extra rollout would “add unnecessary burden on the NHS over the long winter months”.
Meanwhile, the JCVI refused to give its backing to vaccinating healthy 12-15 year olds on health grounds alone.
It said youngsters are at such a low risk from the virus that jabs would offer only a marginal benefit.
But it referred the decision up to Prof Chris Whitty and his fellow chief medical officers for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Unlike the JCVI which is strictly health-based, they will be able to take in the wider societal benefits from vaccinating teenagers.