Covid vaccination programme expanded to include primary age children aged 5 to 11
Parents and carers of 5 to 11 years olds will be able to book a Covid vaccine for their children from today (April 2), as the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history has been expanded to include primary age children.
The service will open at 7am for bookings with appointments available at hundreds of sites from Monday and more coming online throughout the week.
The decision to widen the programme to include younger children has been taken following updated JCVI guidance, which recommended all children would benefit from a non-urgent offer of the vaccine, with almost five million now eligible.
The JCVI has advised that all children aged between 5 to 11 will be offered two 10 microgram doses - a third of the strength given to children over the age of 12 - of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 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 or who live with someone with a weakened immune system.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, said: “From today, parents of almost five million 5 to 11-year-olds can book their little ones in for a vaccine, ensuring they get their first dose of protection and helping to protect against potential future waves of Covid-19.
“Vaccines remain the best defence we have against the virus – my 13-year-old son has had his two vaccinations and I’ll be booking my 10-year old daughter in for hers at the earliest opportunity. I would encourage all parents to read the NHS information available and consider doing the same.”
Most appointments for this age group will be 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.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “The NHS will be rolling out the non-urgent offer for Covid vaccines for all children aged 5 to 11 in England.
“Parents, if they want, can take up the offer for their children to increase protection against Covid as we learn to live with this virus.
“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, as well as to catch up with other childhood immunisation programmes.”
The NHS have already been vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 who have medical conditions that put them at increased risk from Covid or who live with someone with a weakened immune system.
Invites will be sent 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 families will be invited by their GP.
There will be a number of differences compared to adult vaccination sites with clinics allowing for longer appointment times so 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 then be asked to provide consent for their child’s vaccination on the day.