Invitations will be arriving at the homes of more than one million families with five and six-year-olds this week, as the NHS continues to deliver the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in its history.
Recent JCVI guidance recommended all children between 5 – 11 would benefit from a non-urgent offer of the COVID vaccine, helping protect against potential future waves of the virus, with almost five million youngsters now eligible.
Invitations being sent to families this week will set out how easy and convenient it is to take up the offer of a vaccine as part of the NHS COVID vaccination programme by booking through the National Booking Service, or visiting their nearest walk-in site.
The majority of vaccinations for this age group will take place at local vaccination centres or community pharmacies outside of school hours, and are available to book through the online booking service or by calling 119.
There are also convenient vaccine walk-ins across the country, and families can find which sites can vaccinate this age group by putting in their postcode online.
Between now and Sunday (April 25 to May 1), there are already more than 33,500 children aged five to 11 booked in for their dose of the life-saving vaccine, with a further 50,000 slots still available.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead for the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, said: “It is great to see so many families already booked in for their children to receive their COVID vaccine this week, helping to protect themselves against potential future waves of the virus.
“Local vaccine sites are making it as easy as possible for families and allowing for longer appointment times so that families can discuss their decisions, and make sure it is a less daunting experience for youngsters.
“The vaccine is safe and effective – my 13-year-old son has had his two vaccinations and my 10-year old daughter will be getting hers soon – and I’d encourage all parents to read the information and consider booking their child in for a vaccination at the earliest opportunity.”
Minister for Health, Maggie Throup, said: “The COVID vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you as we learn to live with the virus.
“Parents can, if they want to, continue to take up the offer to increase their family’s protection against potential future waves of COVID – local vaccine sites or pharmacies are open outside of school hours and clinicians are more than happy to offer advice and ease any concerns parents or children might have.
“Although children without underlying health conditions are at low risk of serious illness from COVID, and the priority remains for the NHS to offer vaccines and spring boosters to adults and vulnerable young people, getting children vaccinated will help protect them”.
More than 121 million vaccinations, including more than 35 million top-up doses, have been delivered since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial, in Coventry in December 2020.
Parents and guardians are being encouraged to read the patient and consent information in advance of booking their child’s appointment and will be asked to provide consent for their child’s vaccination on the day.
The JCVI has advised that all children aged between 5 to 11 will be offered two doses with an interval of at least 12 weeks between doses (or 8 weeks for children who have medical conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19 or who live with someone with a weakened immune system.)
Families will be given a vaccination record card once their child has been vaccinated and are asked to keep this in a safe place. The vaccination record card provides the name of the vaccine, batch number and the date the vaccine was given.