A British mother has embarked on a 13-hour road trip to Italy to get her nine-year-old daughter vaccinated against Covid-19.
Alice Columbo, from Maidstone, Kent, decided she did not want to wait for the UK to make a decision on rolling out jabs for under 12s and travelled to the northern city of Milan, which began jabbing children aged five and over at the start of last month.

The UK, unlike many other European countries, has not advised to vaccinate children under 12 unless they are clinically extremely vulnerable, in which case they are being offered two doses.

Ms Columbo told the BBC she took advantage of her daughter’s Italian citizenship to jab the “most precious thing in my life”.

She said she would rather give her daughter a vaccine “we know a fair amount about” than risk her contracting the virus and suffering potential long-term side effects.

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She said: “Why would I not give protection to the most precious thing in the world to me, my daughter, rather than run the risk of her turning round to me in five, 10, 15 years’ time, saying ‘Mum, I’ve got heart problems, I’ve got brain problems, I’ve got lung problems, why didn’t you do all you could at the time to protect me?’”

Ms Columbo said she decided to drive to Italy to avoid large crowds, saying she felt sorry for parents who felt as strongly as she did about vaccinating children but did not have the same option.

A decision by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on whether under 12s should be jabbed is expected this month after the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced it was safe to do so in December.

The vaccines are currently only available for those who are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable or who live with someone at risk.

The MHRA announced last month that it had found giving under-12s a smaller dose of the Pfizer jab was both safe and effective.

Its chief executive June Raine said: “Parents and carers can be reassured that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met. We have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective for 5 to 11-year olds, with no new safety concerns identified.”