The Chief Medical Officers from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales gave a briefing today on their reasons for advising the devolved nations to vaccinate young people aged 12-15. 

The recommendation came earlier on Monday, with the briefing, led by Professor Chris Whitty, taking place at 4pm. 

He was joined by Dr Gregor Smith, Dr Frank Atherton and Dr Michael McBride – the CMOs for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively - as well as Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy CMO for England, Dr June Raine of the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Professor Wei Shen Lim of the JCVI. 

Here's what we learned about why the CMOs are advising nations to vaccinate this age group against Covid. 

1. One dose of Pfizer/BioNtech "will reduce educational disruption"

According to the CMOs, one dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine could significantly reduce educational disruption. 

When making their decision, the CMOs considered education and "operational issues" and after consulting experts, they found that education had a big impact on mental health and wellbeing, with missing school linked with social isolation. 

They are currently recommending only one dose be administered, with the JCVI asked to consider the second dose for children in this age group. 

Professor Chris Whitty added that while the vaccine is not "a silver bullet" but "will reduce educational disruption" and it is "a useful tool to help reduce the public health impact".

2. JCVI says recommendation is "good news" and that there is "no conflict" between advice 

The JCVI previously advised vaccinating only certain members of the 12-15 -year-old age group, rather than the group in its entirety. 

However, today Prof Wei Shen Lim from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation welcomed the decision of the CMOs to roll out the vaccine to all young people in this group. 

Professor Christ Whitty started the press briefing by saying the the JCVI had actually recommended the CMOs consider the vaccination of 12-15-year-olds themselves, taking into consideration the impact on education which the JCVI had not. 

Prof Lim added that there was "no conflict" between the advice of the JCVI and the CMOs, adding that the JCVI "recognises the large impact the pandemic has had on our children... not least social isolation". 

Chris Whitty agreed, stating: "We think that what we are doing is very much in line with JCVI". 

3. Side effects in this age group "very rare" according to MHRA

According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), side effects of the vaccine in this age group are "very rare", with the jabs having been "rigorously reviewed" by experts. 

Trials looking at the efficacy in this age group studied more than 2,000 children, from which results were extremely positive, according to Dr June Raine, head of the MHRA.

Efficacy of the vaccine was strong even after just one dose, hence why the CMOs are initially advising just one jab.

She added that cases of a condition called myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) were "very rare".

The conclusion of the MHRA was that the cases were "mild" adding "individuals recover after short time with standard treatment".

4. Both JCVI and MHRA found there ARE benefits to vaccinating young people, these are just small

According to Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland's CMO, "Both the MHRA and JCVI had concluded there were benefits of vaccination even if that benefit was only small". 

Welsh CMO, Dr Frank Atherton, added that for both health benefits and education benefits, it is better to be vaccinated than not vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Scotland's CMO Dr Gregor Smith said he was recommending to children of Scotland that they get this vaccine based on the benefits demonstrated by the JCVI and the CMOs' investigation.  

5. All four CMOs agreed on the vaccination of young people

All of the devolved nations' CMOs agreed on the vaccination of this age group, with all recommending 12-15-year-olds in each of their nation get vaccinated against Covid. 

Professor Whitty added "What we are not trying to do is say to children you must do this - but on balance - we are in favour." 

6. The same rules as other vaccines regarding consent will apply

The CMOs took into account the rights of children when considering the decision. 

Professor Whitty said that the question of who provides consent for children was laid down in law by the Law Lords and therefore it cannot be over-ruled by ministers.

He also highlights that this situation will be no different to any other medical situation.

Gregor Smith said that as a recently practicing GP he has found himself talking to children and guardians about these issues, adding "informed consent" is "really important".

Welsh CMO Dr Frank Atherton said his message to Welsh children was that the vaccine would bring benefits to them both personally and educationally, but ultimately the choice remains their own.