Children aged five to 11 in England with no underlying health conditions are to be offered covid jabs from April. No definite timeframe has yet been given in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid made the announcement saying he was acting on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. He made clear the “non-urgent” offer would help to “increase protection against future waves of Covid-19 ”
In the past only those youngsters in the 5 to 11 age group who were known as immunosuppressed or especially vulnerable to the virus – or in fact living with someone in the same position were offered the vaccination.
In fact, A specially formulated paediatric version of the Pfizer jab is given to this age group, with delivery beginning at Newcastle racecourse last week. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the vaccine is given as two injections in the upper arm with the JCVI adding there will be an interval of at least 12 weeks between doses.
The dose will be 10 micrograms dose compared with 30 micrograms for older people. Studies have revealed the immune response from the paediatric dose in those aged five to 11 is just as good as a full dose for 16 to 25-year-olds.
Asian Standard has learned the goal is to offer the vaccines to help “future proof” children against potential new variants, some of which could be more severe, and upsurges in Covid. Vaccines can also be given in schools.
The Health Secretary told the media: “I have accepted the advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to make a non-urgent offer of Covid-19 vaccines to all children aged five to 11 in England. “The NHS is already offering vaccines to at-risk children and those who live with immunosuppressed people in this age group.
“The JCVI advice follows a thorough review by our independent medicines regulator, the MHRA, which approved Pfizer’s paediatric vaccine as safe and effective for children aged five to 11.”
Mr Javid is currently touring the country in what has been termed his “Road to Recovery” tour. This ties in with the Government strategy of “learning to live” with Covid-19.
He added: “Children without underlying health conditions are at low risk of serious illness from Covid-19 and the priority remains for the NHS to offer vaccines and boosters to adults and vulnerable young people, as well as to catch-up with other childhood immunisation programmes.
“The NHS will prepare to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April so parents can, if they want, take up the offer to increase protection against potential future waves of Covid-19 as we learn to live with this virus.”