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Sajid Javid Confirms Covid-19 Vaccines Will Be Offered For Children Aged Over Five In England

Sajid Javid said "non-urgent" jabs would be offered from April

3 min read

The health secretary has announced that children aged 5-to-11 in England will be offered a "non-urgent" Covid-19 vaccine from April.

Sajid Javid said he had accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer "non-urgent" jabs to those aged over five to "increase protection" against the virus.

Clinically vulnerable children within the age bracket have been offered the jab since December, but the programme is set to be expanded ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to scrap all Covid legal restrictions later this month.

There have reportedly been several delays to the announcement following concerns from the JCVI over vaccinating 12-to-15 year olds because of the low-risk of developing serious illness after contracting Covid-19.

The JCVI said that despite the low risk, it was still possible that children within the age bracket could develop "serious" disease if they catch Covid-19.

Scotland and Wales announced programmes to vaccinate 5-11-year-olds against Covid-19 earlier this week. 

In a statement on Wednesday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, said: "I have accepted the advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to make a non-urgent offer of Covid-19 vaccines to all children aged five to 11 in England.

"The NHS is already offering vaccines to at-risk children and those who live with immunosuppressed people in this age group."

Javid said the advice came after a "thorough review" from the independent medicines regulator, the MHRA, which had approved a paediatric vaccine from Pfizer.

He added: "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 said they had updated their advice because offering the jab would protect a small number of children from serious illness ahead of any future wave of the virus.

Professor Wei Shin Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation on the JCVI, said the group had "carefully considered" the health impacts of offering the jab against "potential indirect educational impacts."

“The main purpose of offering vaccination to 5-11 year olds is to increase their protection against severe illness in advance of a potential future wave of Covid-19," he said.

"Other important childhood vaccinations, such as MMR and HPV, have fallen behind due to the pandemic. It is vital these programmes continue and are not displaced by the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine to this age group."

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