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