THE rollout of Covid jabs for kids aged 12-15 has started today across the UK with up to three million kids being eligible for the shot.
The programme will be delivered primarily through schools up and down the country.
So far in the UK more than 48.5 million people have had a first dose of a Covid jab – with 44.4 million now having had a second.
Booster jabs are also being rolled out in order to target waning immunity in those who had their vaccines during the first stages of the rollout.
Kids getting their vaccines will receive a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Quinn Foakes, 15, today became the first schoolkid to get his jab as part of the rollout.
He was given the Pfizer vaccination at Belfairs Academy secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
Jabs are being delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services, as is the case with the flu and HPV vaccines.
Quinn said: “I was nervous at first but in the long run it’s going to be good because I can keep safe near my family and with my grandparents.
“I can go near them, I’m really excited to be around them.”
Jabs are being rolled out in schools and staff have been warned to ‘not engage’ with misinformation campaigns about the vaccine.
Kids won’t need the consent of their parents if they want to take the vaccine – as long as they are competent enough to make the decision for themselves.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has said for the “great majority of cases, children and their parents come to the same decision”.
Last week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it was aware some schools have been receiving campaign letters and emails with “misinformation” about the vaccine programme.
Its guidance stated: “In the event of a protest or disruptive activity outside a school, or if schools know a protest is planned, they should alert the SAIS (School Age Immunisation Service) provider, local authority and police contacts to discuss the best way to manage the situation.”
The rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds is also beginning in Scotland and Wales this week.
Young people in this age bracket in Scotland can go to drop-in clinics or wait for a letter offering them a scheduled appointment.
Jabs for children in Wales will be carried out at mass vaccination centres and some school settings.
In Northern Ireland, the head of the region’s vaccination programme said jabs are likely to be offered to children aged 12 to 15 in schools from October.
Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics and member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the decision on whether to jab 12 to 15-year-olds is not black and white, adding that while it is not “essential” for them to have a coronavirus vaccine, it is also “perfectly sensible” for them to do so.
The JCVI decided not to recommend mass vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds on health grounds alone, but they suggested that wider issues, such as disruption to education, should be taken into consideration and examined by the UK’s four chief medical officers.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination programme, said: “Alongside one of our busiest summers, NHS staff have been working closely with schools to ensure they are ready to deliver the vaccine to children aged 12-15 who are now eligible.
“Following the decision by government, and building on the success of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme which has delivered over 77 million vaccinations, the NHS will now roll out to hundreds of schools over the next few days.
“The vaccine is safe and effective and I would urge families to work closely with their schools based vaccination team to get their loved ones vaccinated when they are invited to protect themselves and their families ahead of the winter period.”
Kids in this age group with health conditions that put them at increased risk from Covid, as well as those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, who had already been invited for a lifesaving Covid jab are eligible for two doses of Pfizer.
ON THE UP
It is thought that the jabs rollout in school-aged kids will stop the virus spreading amongst this age group.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It’s encouraging to see 12-15 year olds starting to get their vaccinations today – reflecting our ongoing commitment to protect young people from Covid-19 and minimise any disruption to their education.
“The vaccine has made a significant difference in saving lives and reducing transmissions, and has met the strict standards of safety and effectiveness of our renowned medicines regulator for those aged 12 and over.
“Today is the culmination of the fantastic preparation work the NHS has put in place to ensure vaccines can be given as safely and quickly as possible.”
On Friday it was reported that cases of Covid in school-aged kids are on the up.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) states that infections in England have increase for children in school years 7-11, so the majority of high school pupils.
Infections are also increasing in those over the age of 50 – although the data shows that people over the age of 70 continue to have the lowest rate of infections – with just one in 150 people in that age group having the virus.
More broadly and the ONS states that one in 45 people across the UK reported a positive Covid test in the week to September 11.
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