The NHS has announced that the Covid booster vaccination programme is open to vulnerable children aged 12 to 15 years old who are most at risk from Covid.
Having the Covid booster jab is particularly important for vulnerable children because of protection from the severe disease after the first two doses of the Covid vaccine. By receiving the booster jab, it will extend protection from the disease, give broader security to future variants and more robust immunity.
The national booking service by the NHS has now been updated so that the most vulnerable groups can quickly access a booking for a booster jab when they are eligible. The process of eligibility comprises GP led teams and consultants identifying household contacts of severely immunosuppressed people, including vulnerable children, to book them in for their jab. Around 6,400 invitations have already been sent to parents and guardians of eligible vulnerable children to get vaccinated.
The NHS is planning to write out to the 4,400 currently eligible vulnerable children to invite them to book in using the national booking service.
Vaccinating vulnerable children
The update to the vaccination programme has come following advice from the JCVI to extend the booster programme to vulnerable children aged 12- to 15-year-olds at the end of 2021. The driving force for this is to provide further protection to those with an underlying health condition, which means they are clinically at risk.
Until this change was proposed, families and their vulnerable children who were eligible, which includes children receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, those with leukaemia, diabetes, chronic diseases or severe mental illness, have been vaccinated by GP led teams.
Though only around 4,400 vulnerable children aged 12- to 15-year-olds are currently eligible, the plan will expand further for thousands of more children 12 weeks on from their second jab in the upcoming weeks and months, following their second jab.
Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy SRO for the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, said: “Children’s lives, including their education, have been significantly disrupted over the last two years and every parent wants to do all they can to protect their little ones and keep them in school.
“But when a family has the added worry of what COVID could mean for a child who is seriously unwell, getting them their top-up boost in protection as soon as they become eligible is vitally important.
“For young people aged 12 to 15 who are clinically at risk that is a booster three months after their second dose, with it now even easier for families to get their child booked in and protected at a convenient vaccination centre nearby”.
The most successful vaccination drive in history
The NHS immunisation programme is the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health history, delivering almost 32 million boosters to more than four in five eligible adults and over 800,000 young people aged 12- to 15-year-olds have had a second jab with vulnerable children in the process of receiving their booster.
To support young people whilst they get vaccinated, the NHS employed the use of a therapy dog in Nottingham and a mini toy town in the Black Country with children getting to enjoy hopscotch, a treasure hunt, and snakes and ladders following vaccination.
Furthermore, school led-vaccination teams led the initial rollout of first and second jabs to the cohort, and whilst schools continue to vaccinate, eligible 12–15-year-olds can also book their first and second jabs using the national booking service.
Clinically vulnerable children aged 12- to 15-year-olds or those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed are entitled to their booster three months after their two primary doses, with those who are severely immunosuppressed able to get their booster after a third primary dose.
In total, there are around 55,000 young people who are immunosuppressed and the additional option to book online makes it even easier for families to get their child booked in so they can get protected at an existing and convenient vaccination centre.