The world-beating NHS vaccination programme has expanded further so that 12 to 15 year olds who are most at risk from COVID, including those who are severely immunosuppressed and with underlying health conditions, can now book in their booster online.
The national booking service has been updated so that the most vulnerable in this cohort can quickly and easily book in a booster jab when they become eligible.
GP led teams and consultants continue to work to identify household contacts of severely immunosuppressed people to book them in for their jab. Some 6,400 invitations have already been sent to parents and guardians of eligible children inviting them to get vaccinated by a local GP led team.
The NHS is shortly writing out to the 4,400 currently eligible to invite them to book in using the national booking service.
The Government accepted advice from the JCVI to extend the booster programme to at risk 12 to 15s at the end of last year to provide a top-up in protection to those with an underlying health condition which means they are clinically at risk.
Until now families and their young ones who are eligible – including children receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, those with leukaemia, diabetes, chronic diseases or severe mental illness, have been vaccinated by GP led teams.
While only a small number of 12 to 15s are currently eligible – around 4,400 in this group – thousands more will become eligible 12 weeks on from their second jab in the coming weeks and months.
Research from UK Health Security Agency has shown that the NHS booster programme has helped prevent around 157,000 hospitalisations since mid-December.
Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy SRO for the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, said: “Children’s lives, including their education, have been significantly disrupted over the last two years and every parent wants to do all they can to protect their little ones and keep them in school.
“But when a family has the added worry of what COVID could mean for a child who is seriously unwell, getting them their top up boost in protection as soon as they become eligible is vitally important.
“For young people aged 12 to 15 who are clinically at risk that is a booster three months after their second dose, with it now even easier for families to get their child booked in and protected at a convenient vaccination centre nearby”.
So far, the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health history has delivered almost 32 million boosters to more than four in five eligible adults over 800,000 young people aged 12 to 15s have had a second jab in total.
The NHS has pulled out all the stops to make vaccinations as easy as possible for kids, including therapy dog Ruby helping ease any nerves in Nottingham and a mini-toy town in the Black Country with kids getting to play hop-scotch, a treasure hunt, and snake and ladders following vaccination.
School led-vaccination teams led on the initial rollout of first and second jabs to the cohort, and while schools continue to vaccinate, eligible 12-15 year olds can also book in their first and second jabs using the national booking service.
Clinically at-risk 12 to 15 year olds or those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed are entitled to their booster three months after their two primary doses, with those who are severely immunosuppressed able to get their booster after a third primary dose.
In total, there are around 55,000 young people who are immunosuppressed and the additional option to book online makes it even easier for families to get their child booked in so they can get protected at an existing and convenient vaccination centre.