Children aged 5 and above in England to be offered Covid shots

Health authorities clear use of vaccine for millions of children across UK

Veronika Brosnan, 12, receives a Covid-19 vaccination in Epsom, England. PA
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Children in England aged 5 to 11 will be offered access to Covid-19 vaccines after officials said the shots could protect them against future waves of the virus.

It comes as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said children should be offered a low-dose Covid shot on a “non-urgent” basis.

Children will be offered two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with an interval of at least 12 weeks between doses.

“The main purpose of offering vaccination to 5- to 11-year-olds is to increase their protection against severe illness in advance of a potential future wave of Covid-19,” said Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the committee.

Health Minister Sajid Javid on Wednesday said he would accept the committee's advice for England, with the roll-out expected to start in April.

He said: “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.”

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann said the government in Stormont would also be following the committee's advice.

Wales became the first UK nation to announce it will be offering the Covid-19 vaccine to all 5- to 11-year-olds, about 250,000 children, followed by Scotland earlier on Wednesday.

Wales Health Minister Eluned Morgan said on Tuesday she had read the “yet to be published” report by the committee but that she would continue offering the shot.

“In relation to the vaccination of children, the JCVI has yet to publish its report, although there are lots of clues,” said Baroness Morgan.

“It's a shame and it's perplexing to understand why that has not been published yet. But I have seen a copy of that advice and we will be commencing the roll-out of vaccinations for five to 11-year-olds.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday it would follow Wales's lead.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I can confirm that ministers have considered this draft [JCVI] advice and are content to accept its recommendations.

“Throughout the pandemic, it has been our intention that we follow the clinical and scientific evidence available to us and I'd like to once again thank the JCVI for their hard work in scrutinising the science and providing clear guidance.”

Discussions with health boards on the best way of delivering vaccinations to 5- to 11-year-olds have already begun, Ms Sturgeon added.

Updated: February 16, 2022, 6:00 PM