covid: Covid vaccines are open for 5-11 year olds in England

LONDON: Parents and guardians of children aged five to 11 will be able to book a Covid-19 vaccine for them in England from Saturday.
The country’s National Health Service (NHS) has opened bookings as part of its next phase of rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine, with appointments available at hundreds of locations from Monday.
The NHS said it was making the vaccine available for the age group following updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), which recommended that all children should be given a non-emergency offer of the vaccine, making nearly 5 million eligible for the latest rollout.
“Starting today, parents of nearly 5 million children aged 5 to 11 can reserve their little ones for a vaccine, ensuring they get their first dose of protection and helping protect against potential future waves of COVID-19,” said Dr Nikki Kanani, Indian-born deputy director of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“Vaccines remain the best defense we have against the virus – my 13-year-old son has had both of his shots and I will be booking my 10-year-old daughter for hers as soon as possible, and would encourage all parents to read the information available on the NHS and consider doing the same,” she said.
The NHS said it had previously vaccinated children aged five to 11 who have medical conditions that put them at increased risk of Covid-19 or who live with someone with a weakened immune system, and more than three out of five 12-15-year-olds also showed up for a jab.
Most appointments for this age group will be available at local vaccination centers or community pharmacies outside of school hours.
“Parents, if they wish, can take up the offer for their children to increase protection against Covid as we learn to live with this virus,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
“Children without underlying health conditions are at low risk of serious illness from Covid and the priority remains for the NHS to offer spring vaccines and boosters to vulnerable adults and young people, as well as catch up on other childhood immunization programs,” he said. .
The NHS said it will also be sending invitations to parents and guardians of eligible children over the next few weeks to let them know they can now book a vaccine and some people will be invited by their GP.
According to JCVI advice, all children between the ages of five and 11 will be offered two 10-microgram doses, one-third the strength given to everyone over 12, of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine with an interval at least 12 weeks between doses; or eight weeks for children who have medical conditions that put them at increased risk for COVID-19 or who live with someone with a weakened immune system.
Families will receive a vaccination card once their child has been vaccinated, with the name of the vaccine, the batch number and the date of administration of the vaccine.
The latest expansion comes as official figures show a record 4.9million people in the UK have coronavirus, up from 4.3million the previous week. The figures come in the course of a week when access to free lateral flow testing ended for most people in England as part of the government’s strategy to live with Covid.

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