COVID-19 vaccinations are now being offered to clinically vulnerable 5- to 11-year-olds who are most at risk from COVID-19 infection and those living with someone who has a weakened immune system.
GPs and hospital specialists have been asked to identify 5- to 11-year-olds who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination and to contact them in the next couple of weeks.
Most children will get vaccinated at a site run by local GPs and consent will be given by the parent or carer who accompanies their child on the day they are invited to be vaccinated. Parents and carers of eligible children should wait to hear about an appointment, but if they haven’t had an invitation by 11 February they should contact their GP to arrange this.
Alternatively parents or carers whose child attends a special educational needs (SEN) school can also opt for their child to be vaccinated at their school. Convenient dates for these SEN school visits are currently being arranged with their headteachers. Once a date for this visit to the school has been agreed, parents and carers will then be sent a letter and asked to give their consent for their child to have their vaccination on that date while they attend their school.
It is the option of the parent or carer to choose whether they wish to take up the offer to vaccinate their child either by their GP or at their child’s SEN school.
The invitation comes at a time when local and national data is showing that COVID-19 cases are increasing among children aged from two to school year six.
Parents and carers should note that if your child has tested positive for COVID-19 you will need to wait four weeks from the positive test before they are able to have their first or second vaccination.
Dr Rachel Joyce, Director of Clinical and Professional Services for the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System said: ‘This vaccination aims to reduce the risk of infection and is proven to give significant protection against severe illness from COVID. With the Omicron variant continuing to push up infection rates among the youngest age groups we strongly recommend that parents and carers of this group of priority children act quickly to take up this offer of vaccination for their child to give them and vulnerable family members the best possible protection.’
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has identified the following children as being at serious risk from the complications of COVID-19 infection:
- those with severe neuro-disabilities
- those with immunosuppression – those whose immune systems don’t work as well and those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed
- those with profound and multiple or severe learning disabilities
- children on the learning disability register
- those with Down’s syndrome
- those with long-term serious conditions affecting their body
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and UK Health Security Agency have advised that 5- to 11-year-old children who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have two doses of the vaccination eight weeks apart. They will receive a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine – a third of that given to older children and adults.
Please be aware that parents will not be able to book their child’s vaccination appointment by calling 119 or using the national booking system.
To find out more about COVID-19 vaccinations go to the Healthier Future website: covid.healthierfuture.org.uk/vaccine-information-for-young-people. This page has a link to a guide on the COVID-19 vaccination for parents of children at high risk.