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Covid vaccine rollout for children aged 5 to 11 ‘delayed’ pending Downing Street review

Downing Street is reviewing the decision to vaccinate all children aged five to 11

The plan to vaccinate all children aged between five and 11 against Covid-19 has reportedly been delayed.

The rollout was expected to be announced this week after government scientific advisors agreed that vaccines for ‘healthy’ children in this age group should be made available on a “non-urgent” basis.

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Covid jabs for all children aged 5 to 11 have reportedly been ‘delayed’ (Photo: Getty Images)

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is understood to have made its decision more than a week ago, but now Downing Street is reviewing the verdict.

When could vaccines be extended to all children aged 5 to 11?

The JCVI has been divided over approving jabs for healthy five to 11 year-olds for months and last updated its guidance just before Christmas.

This change saw guidance recommend vaccines for children in this age group who are in a “clinical risk group” or have a “household contact with someone who is immunosuppressed”.

Around 500,000 vulnerable children aged five to 11 are now eligible for their first vaccine in the UK and are being offered two 10mcg Pfizer doses – a third of the amount used for adults – eight weeks apart.

The JCVI said this decision was made following “extensive assessment of the risks and benefits of vaccinations” for this age group, and after considering clinical trials and international data.

The committee said: “Further advice regarding Covid-19 vaccination for other five to 11-year-olds will be issued in due course following consideration of additional data relevant to this age group, and on the Omicron variant more broadly.”

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair, Covid-19 immunisation, JCVI, said at the time: “The majority of children aged five to 11 are at very low risk of serious illness due to Covid-19.

"However, some five to 11-year-olds have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk, and we advise these children to be vaccinated in the first instance.”

The majority of countries in Europe are now offering vaccines to all under 12s and some resorts have banned those who have not been jabbed.

Families in the UK have been complaining that their holiday plans have been ruined because of the lack of jabs for all under 12s.

The committee is now understood to have recommended that vaccines should be offered to all children in the five to 11 age bracket, but ministers are deciding whether to accept the recommendation.

If introduced, it is thought that vaccines will be made available to all younger children through an offer to parents to protect against a “potential future wave” of coronavirus.

Officials scheduled a briefing to announce the guidance on Friday last week, and then for this Monday (14 February), but this has been again delayed.

A decision is now expected to be announced on 21 February, when Boris Johnson unveils the government’s long-term Covid plan to Parliament, according to The Guardian.

A government spokesperson said: “No decisions have been made by ministers on the universal offer of a Covid-19 vaccine to all five- to 11-year-olds.

“We are committed to reviewing the JCVI’s advice as part of wider decision-making ahead of the publication of our long-term strategy for living with Covid-19.”

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