Covid vaccine recommended for vulnerable 5 to 11-year-olds

JCVI recommendation comes after a paediatric formulation of the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children

JCVI recommendation comes after a paediatric formulation of the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children

Five to 11-year-olds with certain underlying health conditions should be offered the Covid jab, according to the government’s vaccine advisers.

But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has not recommended that jabs be offered to the age group more widely, saying it needs to consider more data.

The JCVI today issued a statement on the vaccination of children and young people, saying children aged five to 11 in a “clinical risk group” or who are household contacts of someone who is immunosuppressed should be offered two 10 micrograms doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

A list of clinical risk groups is set out in government documents here.

It comes after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved a new paediatric formulation of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 after it was found to have met the required safety, quality and effectiveness standards.

It also comes after the latest Office for National Statistics infection survey estimated that around one in 20 primary-aged pupils tested positive for Covid in the week to December 11. In recent weeks younger children have overtaken secondary-age pupils to become the age group with the highest rate of infection.

Booster jabs recommended for older and vulnerable teens

The JCVI has also recommended that a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine be offered to children and young people aged 16 and 17, those aged 12 to 15 who are in a clinical risk group or live with someone who is immunosuppressed and to 12 to 15-year-olds who are themselves severely immunosuppressed and who have already had a third primary dose.

These doses should be offered no sooner than three months after teenagers completed their primary course.

However, at this stage the JCVI has not recommended the jab for otherwise healthy five to 11-year-olds.

The committee said it would issue advice after seeking updated data on the proportion of children who have already been affected, and information on the level of protection against the Omicron variant given by previous infection.

The committee said it would also consider “post-marketing adverse event reporting data” from the international use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in those aged 5 to 11 years”.

It will also look at considerations from the Department of Health and Social Care and other departments on the “potential educational impacts (both benefits and disbenefits) of Covid-19 vaccination in those aged 5 to 11 years.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT leadership union, which mostly represents primary heads, said: “We know that there are many families with medically vulnerable children who have been waiting for this decision and so they will be pleased that there is now a sense of clarity.

“Of course, vaccination for children, and particular younger children, will always be a choice for parents to make.”

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