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Vulnerable children over five should be offered Covid vaccination

children covid booster

The JCVI has advised that children aged 5-11 who are in a clinical risk group or a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed should be vaccinated against Covid.

New JCVI advice published today said that they should be offered two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab eight weeks apart and each dose at least four weeks after any Covid infection.

It said further advice on Covid jabs for other 5-11s ‘will be issued in due course following consideration of additional data’, including:

  • updated estimates of the proportion of 5-11s who have already been infected
  • the level of protection afforded against Covid due to the Omicron variant from previous infection
  • post-marketing adverse event reporting data from the international use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the age group
  • considerations from the Government on the potential educational impacts (both benefits and disbenefits) of Covid vaccination in 5-11s

It said the advice comes as a clinical trial of 2,268 children aged 5 to 11 years randomised to receive two doses of 10 micrograms of the Pfizer jab or placebo, the vaccine was found to be ‘safe and immunogenic’ – with ‘no cases’ of myocarditis.

It added: ‘At the current time, JCVI considers the balance of potential benefits and harms is in favour of offering vaccination to children aged 5 to 11 years who are in a clinical risk group. 

‘Children aged 5 to 11 years old who are not in a clinical risk group but are household contacts of an immunosuppressed individual (of any age) should also be offered Covid-19 vaccination on the understanding that the main indication for vaccination is to indirectly increase protection of the person who is immunosuppressed.’

Meanwhile, the JCVI also recommended that all 16-17s, as well as 12-15s who are clinically vulnerable, a household contact of an immunosuppressed person or themselves ‘severely immunosuppressed’ and having had a third primary dose, should be offered a Covid booster jab.

They should receive 30 micrograms of the Pfizer vaccine no sooner than three months after completing their primary course of Covid vaccinations, it said.

The JCVI added: ‘Prioritisation of booster vaccination within eligible cohorts should generally be in the order of descending age groups, or clinical risk, whichever is more expedient. 

‘Boosting of children in clinical risk groups should commence after the equivalent clinical risk adult groups; higher age is independently associated with a higher risk of complications from Covid-19 and these adults will have received their primary vaccinations earlier in the vaccine programme.’

It comes as the national booking service this week opened for 12-15s to get their second dose of the vaccine, after more than 1.3 million took up the offer of a first dose so far. 

Meanwhile, guidance updated earlier this month said that healthy under-18s could see a shorter interval between their first and second Covid jabs if a new variant sparks ‘concern’ about vaccine effectiveness.

Click to complete relevant paediatrics CPD modules on Pulse learning. 

READERS' COMMENTS [1]

Azeem Majeed 22 December, 2021 3:29 pm

Once again, the UK deviates from the international consensus in its Covid-19 policies.