31 January 2022
Children aged 5 to 11 in a clinical at-risk group will be offered a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination, following advice from the Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination (JCVI). From today, parents will start receiving a letter and leaflets from the Vaccination Team.
The JCVI recommended that 5 to 11 year olds who are in a clinical at-risk group or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed, should be offered two paediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 8 weeks apart.
The Vaccination Centre will phone parents to confirm if they would like to get their child vaccinated. The vaccinations will be administered by nurses in the General Hospital to create a more private and child-friendly environment for young children. Clinical at-risk children who attend Mont à L'Abbé School will be offered a choice to have their vaccinations at school so that it is as accessible as possible and in familiar surroundings.
If a parent is not contacted by Wednesday 2 February but believes their child should be eligible for vaccination, they can call the Coronavirus Helpline who will be able to confirm eligibility and complete an opt-in form over the phone on 0800 735 5566.
Further advice on vaccination for other 5 to 11 year olds will be issued by the JCVI in due course following consideration of further data relevant to this age group, and on the Omicron variant more broadly.
Deputy Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said: "I would like to reassure parents and Islanders that an extensive assessment of the risks and benefits for at-risk 5 to 11 year olds, including analysis of clinical trial results and real-world data has been carried out. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have carefully considered all the data and support a positive benefit risk for children in this age group.
"A Children's Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) has been put together by the Children's Commissioner, alongside officers from the vaccination programme. The CRIA considers the proposals to extend the COVID-19 vaccination programme to this age and risk group from the perspective of the rights and perspectives of children and young people. This assessment concludes that such extension is appropriate from these perspectives. A CRIA has previously been produced for rolling out the vaccine to under 18s.
"While exposure to the virus is high among children due to school and nursery settings, the majority of children aged 5 to 11 are at a lower risk of developing serious illness. However, those who have underlying health conditions are at an increased risk, so following the advice from the JCVI and MHRA, I strongly encourage parents to take the time to read through the letter and leaflet that the Vaccination Team are sending and seriously consider getting their child vaccinated."
Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: "Vaccination is the most crucial line of defence we have against COVID-19 and is the reason that de-escalation of COVID-19 measures has been possible.
"It is important that Islanders continue to stay up to date with their vaccination schedule and get vaccinated when a new dose is offered to them, or when further priority groups become eligible.
"I am pleased that we are going to be offering a primary course of vaccination to 5 to 11 year olds who are at higher risk from coronavirus or live with someone who is considered clinically at-risk.
"With many positive cases stemming from school settings, vaccinating those children who are most vulnerable is important to ensure they are protected against the potential risks associated with catching the virus and to reduce the spread of infection to other children. Keeping up with regular lateral flow testing is also extremely important in supporting schools and protecting face to face teaching. I urge parents to consider getting their child vaccinated if they are eligible and afford them the best protection."