The NHS vaccination programme will begin to roll out to children aged between 5 and 11 who are most at risk of COVID-19 this week, as the health service’s drive to protect the country from the virus continues.
Children aged 5 -11 who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is in immunosuppressed will be able to get the first dose of the COVID vaccine in line with advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
There are around 500,000 eligible children in the latest cohort.
Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions as outlined by the UK Health Security Agency in the Green Book.
Parents and guardians should wait for the NHS to contact them for when it is their child’s turn to get the life-saving vaccine with local NHS teams already contacting those who are eligible.
GP led teams have been identifying eligible children ahead of vaccinations starting to help get jabs into arms as quickly as possible.
Over 850 sites have already signed up to be part of the latest expansion – with vaccinations to 5-11 year olds being delivered initially by GP led vaccination teams and hospital hubs.
All eligible 5-11 year olds will be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer vaccine eight weeks apart – a third of the amount used for adult vaccinations.
Since the biggest and fastest vaccination rollout in NHS history expanded to children and young people, the NHS has already delivered over 3.5 million vaccinations to people aged 12-17, including over 2.4 million first doses.
And just two weeks after the expansion of the booster to all 16 and 17 year olds, over half of eligible young people in this age group have already received their top-up protection.
The NHS is also reminding parents and guardians that their children can continue to get protection from flu with millions of reminder texts, letters and emails going out next week.
GP and deputy lead for NHS vaccination programme Dr Nikki Kanani, said: “We know vaccines give significant protection against severe illness from COVID – including the omicron variant, so it is important that our youngest and most at-risk get protected.
“The NHS is now vaccinating the most at risk 5-11 year olds ensuring they get their vital dose of protection.
“Thousands of young people are still getting protected every day with millions vaccinated so far and we are asking parents not to delay coming forward – as soon as the NHS contacts you, please come forward so the NHS can protect their youngest against the virus”.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “I would like parents and guardians to be reassured that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness had been met.
“I encourage as many as possible to make sure they get their child the jab when contacted – the paediatric vaccine will offer the best possible protection for your child”.
Latest ONS data shows COVID cases increasing among children aged from two to school year six – and increased from school years seven to 11.
More children than ever are eligible for a free flu vaccine this winter, including all two- and three-year-olds and all pupils from reception age to school leavers, to drive up protection from the virus.
Young people aged four to 16 will have been offered the flu vaccination through their school, but parents can phone 119 to find out how to book a jab if they do not have an appointment planned in school already.
In line with national guidance, patient information is sent out to parents and guardians with information on the COVID-19 vaccination.
Parents and guardians are asked to attend with their children and are asked to read the patient information in advance of arriving for their appointment.
Eligible children in this cohort will get a second dose eight weeks after their first dose and can’t receive any vaccination until four weeks after a positive test for coronavirus.
Last month the JCVI also issued updated guidance recommending all 16 and 17 year olds get a Pfizer booster from three months (91 days) after their second dose.
People aged 16 and 17 can now go to the NHS website and secure their booster appointment in advance two months (61 days) after their second dose.
Over 115 million coronavirus vaccinations, including 43.9 million first doses and over 31 million booster doses have been delivered by the NHS so far.