Covid jabs for children aged 5 to 11 to start from Monday, April 4 and run alongside spring booster roll out for older patients
The roll-out of Covid-19 jabs for all children aged five to 11 is to begin in England next week.
Parents of primary school-aged pupils who wish for their offspring to have a coronavirus jab are to be able to make their first of two appointments from this Saturday.
Families will be able to book a vaccine for their child - or children - using the National Booking System with the first slots for youngsters available from Monday (April 4), which coincides with the first week of the Easter holidays and could make arrangements easier for parents.
Vaccines for children won't be given in school or at GP surgeries, like most routine childhood immunisations, instead parents will need to take their youngsters to vaccination centres or pharmacies administering coronavirus jabs as part of the national roll-out.
Staff at vaccination centres across the country face a busy few months ahead as hundreds of thousands of older people and those with underlying health conditions also come forward for a spring booster jab. The news also comes as England prepares to end free mass testing for Covid19.
Up until now Covid-19 vaccinations for those aged between five and 11 have been strictly limited to children who are clinically vulnerable or who have suppressed immune systems as a result of an underlying health condition.
However following the JCVI recommendation that vaccines also be offered to all 5 to 11-year-olds, to boost immunity and increase their protection against any future waves of Covid, the first batch of appointments are about to go online.
Children will be offered the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine and each jab is a third of the dose that is given to older children and adults.
Those youngsters who are at greater risk of serious illness if they catch the virus, says the NHS, are being given two doses eight weeks apart while all other children are to be offered two doses of vaccine which are given 12 weeks apart.
If a child has already had coronavirus, the vaccine will still give them added protection say health officials, but these youngsters will need to wait 12 weeks before getting vaccinated.
For most children, says the NHS, Covid-19 remains a mild illness that may require a few days off school but rarely leads to more serious complications.
And while the current Omicron variant appears to be particularly mild in children, with mostly cold-like symptoms reported, health experts say it is not known if future variants of coronavirus will be just as mild.
The nationwide roll-out for children aged five to 11, will also bring England in line with many other countries, including Spain, France, Greece, Germany and the United States which have been routinely offering coronavirus vaccines to children aged five to 11 since the end of last year.