Children as young as five will be eligible for the vaccine from April
All children aged five to 11 in England will be offered a covid vaccine, the health secretary has confirmed.
Sajid Javid on Wednesday accepted the recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for younger children to be offered the Covid vaccine from April.
Boris Johnson had been facing mounting pressure to expand the vaccination programme, after both Scotland and Wales announced provisions for younger children to have the vaccine.
While Northern Ireland is expected to follow suit soon, clinically vulnerable children aged five to 11 are already eligible for the vaccine in all four nations.
In a statement, Javid said he accepted the advice from the JCVI to “make a non-urgent offer of COVID-19 vaccines to all children aged five to 11 in England.”
He said: “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.
“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.”
The JCVI had submitted its recommendation to government ministers more than a week ago, but it has yet to be published.
Use of the Pfizer covid vaccine in children aged five to 11 was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last year.
Children aged 12 to 15-year-olds started getting their first vaccines in England at the end of September.
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