‘National mission!’ Covid jabs for children aged 5-11 years to be available by mid January

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has accepted the advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and ordered supplies of the Pfizer pediatric jab that are expected to arrive from mid-January. Mr Javid said: “I have accepted the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to offer vaccines to at-risk five to 11-year-old children.

“We have decided to extend the booster programme to at-risk 12-15s and all 16-17s.

“While our current and unrelenting focus is ensuring all eligible adults are offered a Covid-19 booster vaccine by the end of December because two doses do not provide enough protection against the Omicron variant, the NHS will prepare to offer vaccines to at-risk five to 11-year-old children.

“This is a national mission and we urge everybody to play their part by getting their vaccines and booster doses as soon as possible.”

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said on Wednesday that about 330,000 young children who are at risk from coronavirus, or who live with someone who is severely immunocompromised, should immediately be offered two doses.

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The JCVI stopped short of recommending jabs for all five to 11-year-olds as the committee wanted to see more evidence on the vaccine’s effectiveness against Omicron before making a decision to offer the vaccine more widely.

Scientists welcomed the JCVI’s decision to offer the jab to vulnerable children.

However, some want to see it rolled out much more widely among that age group.

Dr David Strain, a senior clinical lecturer at the college of medicine and health at the University of Exeter, and adviser to the NHS Long Covid Taskforce told The i: “In an ideal world this would have been done months ago.”

He argued that the case for vaccinating this age group was stronger than ever because it had become increasingly apparent that they – rather than adults – would be the primary beneficiaries.

He told the publication: “We’re in a position where we need to be protecting the kids now.

“The dynamics have changed – because we know that vaccination isn’t that good at preventing Omicron spread.

“It’s only stopping people getting sick from Omicron.

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“Previously, the vaccination strategy for the five-year-olds was predominantly about protecting their parents, whereas now it’s actually about protecting them.”

Dr Nick Mann, a GP in east London, said: “Our children deserve to have whatever protection we are able to offer, and for this to be useful it needs to be done immediately.”

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