More than 600,000 5- to 11-year-olds now eligible for Covid vaccination in east of England

From today, children aged 5 to 11 years old will be receiving their first Covid-19 vaccine as the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history expands yet again.

Parents and carers were able to book slots for 5- to 11-year-olds from Saturday, with appointments available at hundreds of sites from today and more coming online throughout the week.

The NHS is making the vaccine available for all 5 to 11s following updated JCVI guidance, which recommended all children would benefit from a non-urgent offer of the vaccine, with almost five million now eligible nationally.

Children under 12 who have medical conditions that put them at increased risk from Covid-19 or who live with someone with a weakened immune system have already been receiving vaccinations since January.

Most appointments for this age group are available 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.

Across the east of England, there are opportunities to tie in vaccinations with family days out during the Easter holidays. The Grafton Centre in Cambridge, the City Hall in Norwich and Leisure World in Colchester are just three of the many vaccination centres in the region that are open to bookings for 5-11 vaccinations.

The NHS will be adding more appointments throughout the week so anyone unable to get a convenient slot initially should keep trying.

There are also convenient vaccine walk-ins across the region which families can find through the NHS grab a jab website.

The NHS will also be sending invites to parents and guardians of eligible children throughout the next few weeks to let them know they can now book in for a vaccine and some people will be invited by their GP.

Rebecca Dennett, Head of the Covid and Flu vaccination programme in the East of England, said:

“With the Easter holidays coming up for many children across the region, vaccines for 5 to 11-year olds have come at a great time.

“The Covid-19 vaccine is the most effective defence against the virus and can help limit the spread among our community. Research shows how vaccines prevent the worsening of symptoms with Covid-19, so if you are a parent or carer, please do consider booking your child in for a Covid vaccine through the National Booking Service or by calling 119.”

The NHS in the east of England has pulled out all the stops to make vaccinations as easy as possible for children, including a child-friendly video that explains the vaccine process and sessions to help combat needle-phobia.

Sites are also allowing for longer appointment times so that families can discuss their decisions and ensure visits with children are as stress-free as possible.

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.

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.