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Vulnerable children eligible for their first COVID-19 vaccine

Vulnerable children aged between five and 11 years old have become eligible for their first COVID-19 vaccine. 

The NHS vaccination programme has started to roll out to children aged between 5 and 11 who are most at risk of COVID-19 in Wirral. 

Children aged 5 -11 who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is in immunosuppressed will be able to get the first dose of the COVID vaccine in line with advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). 

Wirral’s Director of Public Health, Julie Webster said: "I encourage as many as parents and guardians in Wirral to make sure their children get the jab when contacted. 

“To those who are on the fence, I want to reassure them that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness had been met.” 

Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions as outlined by the UK Health Security Agency in the Green Book. 

Parents and guardians should wait for the NHS to contact them - when it is their child’s turn to get the vaccine.  

GP led teams in Wirral have been identifying eligible children, to help get children protected as quickly as possible – with vaccinations for this group starting to be rolled out this week. 

All eligible 5-11 year olds will be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer vaccine eight weeks apart – a third of the amount used for adult vaccinations. 

Nationally, the NHS has already delivered over 3.5 million vaccinations to people aged 12-17, including over 2.4 million first doses. 

And just two weeks after the expansion of the booster programme, to all 16 and 17 year olds, over half of eligible young people in this age group have already had their top-up protection. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the eligibility criteria for the clinical risk group for 5 to 11-year-olds?  

A clinician will determine whether or not a child within this age group should be offered COVID-19 vaccination. Children considered at higher risk of severe COVID-19 include those who have:   

  • chronic respiratory disease 
  • chronic heart conditions 
  • chronic conditions of the kidney, liver or digestive system 
  • chronic neurological disease 
  • severe, profound or multiple learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome or are on the learning disability register 
  • endocrine disorders 
  • a weakened immune system due to a treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy) 
  • asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen 
  • serious genetic irregularities that affect a number of systems, including mitochondrial disease and chromosomal abnormalities  

Children who are about to receive planned immunosuppressive therapy should be considered for vaccination prior to commencing therapy. 

A full list of the eligibility criteria is available in table 4 of the Green Book, chapter 14a.  

 

What are the eligibility criteria for 5 to 11-year-olds classed as a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed?  

Children aged 5 to 11 years who are expected to share living accommodation on most days (and therefore for whom continuing close contact is unavoidable) with individuals of any age who are immunosuppressed will be entitled to COVID-19 vaccination.  

 

Are the COVID-19 vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds the same as those used for adults? 

The preferred option for children in this cohort is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty®) 10 micrograms dose concentrate, which is a formulation for children aged 5 to 11. However, it is recognised that in exceptional circumstances, and where it is in the best interests of the patient, clinicians may decide to vaccinate children and young people under the age of 12 with a smaller volume of the adult version of the vaccine (a fractionated dose). 

 

What adjustments are being made to support children with additional needs attending vaccination appointments? 

Our standards require sites to allocate more time for vaccinating children. If a child will require any reasonable adjustments at their vaccination appointment to support attendance and delivery of the vaccination, parents should make any requirements needed known when they are booking the appointment on behalf of their child. It is important services are aware of any appropriate arrangements needed in advance. 

 

What safeguarding measures are the NHS putting in place?   

Additional safeguarding standards will be in place for staff involved in vaccinating this age group. All the clinical staff working in the centre are required to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. In addition, all staff (excluding stewards) must have additional bespoke training.  

 
Will vaccination staff be offered special training?  

A number of additional resources have been prepared to assist providers in preparing the workforce and the environment for young children. All staff involved in vaccinating 5 to 11-year-olds will have appropriate training specific to communicating with and vaccinating this age group. For staff vaccinating children with special educational needs and disabilities, all clinical staff are required to have the skill and competences to care for this group of patients.  

  

Will vaccination appointments be available at flexible times to fit around families’ work and school commitments?   

Vaccination sites should ensure a range of times are available which are convenient to parents and children.  

 

Can vaccination be provided with a nasal spray like with flu?  
No, the COVID-19 vaccine is currently only available as an injection. 

 

What happens if my local GP has opted out of giving vaccines to this age group?  

GPs who aren’t providing vaccinations to this age group have been asked to identify all eligible patients on their lists and ensure they receive an invitation for vaccination at another local site. 

 

If you have any other questions about the vaccine, please contact your child’s GP or Consultant or see the Government website.