“We should have started this in the summer.” Dr Helen Salisbury, a GP in Oxford and member of the Independent Sage committee, was one of several senior doctors interviewed by the Guardian about the vaccination programme for school children. She said the combination of “half-hearted endorsement” of the vaccine in the age group and “stretched services” risked further delaying vaccinations in teenagers. Sending children back to school without masks, extra ventilation, bubbles and isolation policies was “a total recipe for ensuring everybody gets exposed”, she added.

“I don’t understand why we are not getting on with it. It seems urgent. Urgent to protect these children, and to protect their families, and to protect their education,” she said.

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