A boy receives a Covid-19 vaccine at a drive-through NHS (National Health Service) vaccination centre outside Ewood Park, Blackburn Rovers Football Club in Blackburn in north-west England on January 17, 2022. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain has been slower than some other countries in offering the shots to 5-11-year-olds, and is not planning to vaccinate the age group more broadly unlike countries such as the US and Israel.
NHS England said children in the cohort who were in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed would be able to get a first Covid-19 shot, in line with advice issued last month by the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI).
“I would like parents and guardians to be reassured that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness had been met,” UK vaccines minister Maggie Throup said.
“I encourage as many as possible to make sure they get their child the jab when contacted.”
Children will be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which is a third of an adult dose.
Infections are currently high among school children in England, with the Office for National Statistics estimating that nearly 12 per cent of younger school pupils had coronavirus in the week ending January 22.
Pfizer’s Covid pill
Meanwhile, Britain will start rolling out Pfizer’s Covid-19 pill to vulnerable people next month, the health ministry said, targeting the treatment at people with compromised immune systems for whom the vaccine can be less effective.
The health ministry said that Pfizer’s antiviral treatment Paxlovid, a combination of Pfizer’s pill with an older antiviral ritonavir, will be made available to thousands of people from Feb. 10.
“It is fantastic news that this new treatment, the latest cutting-edge drug that the NHS is rolling out through new Covid-19 medicine delivery units, will now be available to help those at highest risk of Covid-19,” NHS medical director Stephen Powis said.
Britain has ordered 2.75 million courses of Paxlovid, and the government said that it would set out further details on access to the treatment soon but that people who are immunocompromised, cancer patients or those with Down’s Syndrome could be able to access it directly.