YOUNG people set to turn 18 in the coming weeks are being invited to have their first  dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

For the very first time, the vaccination process is being opened up to 17-year-olds in Wales.

Anyone aged 17 years and nine months will soon be receiving invitations to vaccine appointments.

Alternatively, anyone in this age range can attend a walk-in vaccination clinic in their local health board area.

It has been confirmed that the Welsh Government has taken this step, following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

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The hope is that a large number of 17-year-olds will get their first vaccine in the coming weeks, before entering full-time work, or starting university in the autumn.

With the vaccination process opening to youngsters now, it is hoped that by autumn, these same people will be looking to get their second vaccine.

It has also been advised by the JCVI that anyone aged 12 or older, with specific underlying health conditions which would put them at serious risk of Covid-19, should also be offered the vaccine at this time.

Children and young people aged 12-17 who live with someone – either an adult or child – who are immunosuppressed will also be offered a vaccine to help protect those they live with. They will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the coming weeks.

The government is identifying youngsters who fall into these categories, with invitations set to follow over the coming weeks.

At this time, almost 80 per cent of adults in Wales have been fully vaccinated.

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What has been said about the announcement?

Deputy chief medical officer for vaccines Gill Richardson said: “This is the next stage of our successful vaccination programme and the first step towards delivering vaccines to children and young people.

“We will move quickly to vaccinate those aged 12-17 who fall into the categories outlined by the recent JCVI guidance on vaccinating children.

“Our vaccination programme continues to make outstanding progress, and more than two million people in Wales have been fully vaccinated. We are incredibly grateful for the work of all the NHS staff, volunteers and the military who have are making sure no one is left behind’".

Minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan said: “We welcome the advice from the JCVI and agree with the approach. Our task now is to roll out this next stage of the vaccination programme out as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“Wales has a world-leading vaccination programme and I’m grateful to everyone involved in it for the part they have played in making it such a success.

“I want to encourage everyone to take up their offer of a vaccine to help protect themselves and their loved ones.”