‘At-risk’ children under five to be offered Covid jabs as millions in line for spring boosters

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Vaccinations for those eligible will roll out from mid-June

Vulnerable children under the age of five will be offered a Covid vaccine, the government has announced.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that all youngsters aged six months to four years in clinical risk groups should be offered the jab.

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It is recommended that children be offered two 3-microgram doses of the Pfizer vaccine with an interval of at least eight weeks between each jab. Further advice on a potential third dose will be issued on this in due course, the JCVI says. Vaccination of children aged six months to four years old who are not in a clinical risk group is not currently advised. NHS England has said it will start offering vaccinations to those who are eligible from mid-June.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Children are at very low risk of harm from Covid. However, there are a very small number of children with health conditions which make them particularly vulnerable, and for those children we want to give parents the choice as to whether they wish to vaccinate their at risk child or not.

“I have accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on vaccinating children aged from six months to four years who are in a clinical risk group. It is a parental decision, and this advice is simply to enable parents of children with medical conditions to choose if they wish to have the protection.”

Vulnerable children under the age of four will be offered a Covid vaccine (Photo: Getty Images)Vulnerable children under the age of four will be offered a Covid vaccine (Photo: Getty Images)
Vulnerable children under the age of four will be offered a Covid vaccine (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The move comes as millions of people are set to receive the spring Covid booster jab from this week. Around five million people in total are eligible for the vaccine up until the end of June, including those aged 75 and over and anyone aged five and over who is immunosuppressed.

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Care home residents will be the first in line for the jabs, with the booster programme now underway in England, and all other eligible people can book their jab online from 5 April, with the first appointments commencing the week of 17 April.

People will be invited for the vaccine initially through the NHS - where appointments can also be booked - and text messages and letters will also be sent out for those who do not have access to the app, or are not regularly using it.

The JCVI said the spring booster campaign can include vaccination with the Pfizer, Moderna, Sanofi/GSK jabs. The Novavax jab will also be available for use only when alternatives are not considered clinically suitable.

Children under 12 will be offered a children’s formulation of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The vaccine people receive will depend on local supply.

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NHS director of vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: “As a society we are learning to live with Covid but, for many, it is still a virus that can cause serious illness and hospitalisation, and so it is still really important that those at greatest risk come forward and boost their protection in the coming weeks.

“There are still around 8,000 people in hospital with Covid, according to the latest data, and the NHS has now treated more than one million Covid inpatients since the pandemic began.

“So if you are over 75 or you have a weakened immune system, please come forward as soon as possible to book a Covid vaccine this spring so you can enjoy summer with peace of mind.”

The offer for anyone to get a first Covid jab will end on 30 June, with more targeted seasonal campaigns likely in the future.

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