Parents reassured over Covid vaccines for children

A nurse holding a bottle of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine

Some children are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine - Credit: PA

Doctors have issued reassuring guidance to parents of some children aged between five and 11, who are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Corinne Hayes and Dr Emily Chesshyre, who are both paediatricians based at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, have recorded a short video explaining that the paediatric dose of the vaccination is known to be safe and has been widely used in this age group in other countries.

Children aged 5 to 11 years, who are clinically at risk from Covid-19 or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed are now eligible for a lower, paediatric, dose of the vaccine.

Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions such as chronic heart or kidney conditions.

Dr Hayes said: "Having the vaccine will help protect the most vulnerable children and their families from Covid-19. If you have any concerns please talk to your GP or consultant, we’re always happy to help."

Children who are eligible will be contacted by their GP or the local NHS inviting them to book an appointment. This group is not currently able to book through the national booking system.

Dr Chesshyre said: "I want to reassure children and their parents that this lower dose has been approved following a robust safety review and that many children elsewhere in the world have already been safely vaccinated. 

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"More than 8.7 million children in this age group have had the Covid-19 vaccine in the US alone."

NHS Devon’s Chief Nurse, Darryn Allcorn, said: "I urge any parent or guardian of children in this eligible group to take up the offer as soon as they are invited. 

"Children may experience mild side effects, such as a sore arm or flu-like symptoms, but we know that even the milder Omicron variant can make people seriously ill."

The Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) advises the government on immunisations and has recommended that eligible children should receive two 10-microgram doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. This is one third of the dose for adults and children aged 12 and over. 

The vaccination is given as two injections in the upper arm, with a minimum interval of eight weeks between these doses. 

Children who turn 12 during that interval will still have a lower second dose.

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates medicines in the UK, said: "Parents and carers can be reassured that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.

"We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines and this includes children aged five to 11 years old."