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Begin vaccinating eligible children against Covid ‘immediately’, NHSE tells GPs

children covid booster

NHS England has now instructed practices to begin vaccinating eligible children against Covid, a week after some practices had to cancel initial bookings.

Last month, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) gave the green light to vaccinate children aged 12-15 deemed at ‘increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease’.

However, some GP-led vaccination sites had to cancel the appointments they had already made after NHSE said they should not yet go ahead due to indemnity concerns.

Meanwhile, JCVI recommended on Wednesday (4 August) that all 16- to 17-year-olds should be invited for a vaccine.

NHSE has now told practices they can begin vaccinating these eligible patients ‘immediately’, after updating its enhanced service specification for phases one, two and three.

In its Primary Care Bulletin, distributed yesterday (5 August), NHSE said: ‘Practices delivering Covid-19 vaccinations under the phases 1 and 2 Enhanced Service (ES) can start vaccinating eligible children and younger people immediately subject to meeting the requirements of the ES. That includes eligible 12–15-year-olds and a first dose all 16- and 17-year-olds.’

NHSE also clarified that the ES specification for phases one and two has been extended until the end of October 2021 to make sure PCN groupings who are not involved in the booster phase can complete any outstanding second doses.

Children aged 12-15 who should get the vaccine include those with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities, as well as people in this age group who are household contacts of individuals who are immunosuppressed.

Vulnerable 16-17-year-olds were already targeted earlier on in the vaccination campaign.

This follows the news that GP practices and primary care networks delivered 4.2 million Covid vaccines in June, according to NHS Digital data.

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only Covid jab authorised by the MHRA for use in teenagers in the UK.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice


Patrufini Duffy 6 August, 2021 1:08 pm

They’re on holiday. Not as easy as you think, think-tank, unless we do a home visit to Mallorca or Cotswolds. You can’t just click fingers.

Neil Tallant 6 August, 2021 2:36 pm

Sounds a bit like Right hand vs Left hand policy making. That said is the (eventual) decision premature? There is still the rest of the world to even start vaccinating. Until that has progressed none of us are really going anywhere (vis Mexico etc). Also note that these vaccines still don’t have product licences just authorisation under section 174. I can therefore see logic in the emergency administration to the vulnerable (Fortunately covid 19 has so far been very Darwinian in its pathogenesis) for both the individual and the NHS. To proceed down a line where the risk:benefits are somewhat blurred seems potentially counterproductive. It seems very unlikely that we will ever eradicate CoV-19. Do we therefore not need a certain background viral presence to maintain our own vaccine induced immunity? Seems otherwise we’ll be boosting forever. (I do accept that this logic may also be flawed)

Hello My name is 6 August, 2021 7:06 pm

I think I’m happy to sit this one out. Would I choose to have a vaccine myself if I was 12? They are at minuscule risk from the virus, the vaccines are effective at protecting the vulnerable and it is apparent (thanks Australia) that we are never going to eliminate Covid. So why not focus on vaccinating the vast majority of the vulnerable around the world and save the experimenting (yes, still experimental) on children? There has been too much hysteria in the pandemic and not enough ethics.

terry sullivan 7 August, 2021 6:40 am

say no–kids do not need this–and claims will be dumped on gps who have their own insurnce–leave it no nhs hospitals and clinics

and informed consent is needed from kids–do you have the wherewithall for that?

Vinci Ho 7 August, 2021 7:25 am

I do accept the arguments from both ends :
(1) This pandemic perhaps signifies a crossroads for human beings : the world following rapidly the life curve of Covid in a ,as quoted above, Darwinian pattern of evolution. Geopolitics, traditional friendship/rivalry , technology, research and development, culture , economics and stock markets , humanitarian values etc are all subjected to a process of redefining their telos and ethos .
(2) Vaccination seems to be the only hitherto ‘way out’ from this vicious virus and it is probably one of very few ideologies accepted universally by countries in a extremely polarised world we are living in now .
My take is ; damned you do , damned you don’t . But at least , we are offering but not coercing (well , I am not sure about some countries)
(3) The kids have their own thoughts and we should listen with respect . GPs are all well trained for the scenario of prescribing contraceptive pills to young children for medical reasons , mutatis mutandis , can be comparable in here .Though I accept that this argument is subjected to challenges .

Vinci Ho 7 August, 2021 7:34 am

And I suppose , by default , GPs are primarily serving the role of primary prevention in medicine, in stark contrast to our secondary care colleagues largely for secondary prevention of diseases .
Vaccination is primary prevention(well , according to text book definition , at least )

terry sullivan 9 August, 2021 10:58 am

you are being dumped on–leave it to nhs/nhse/phe