Five to 11 year olds still waiting for vaccine

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10 January 2022

Clinically extremely vulnerable five to 11 year olds are not included in the national vaccination programme, leaving them at risk of catching Covid-19.

Clinically extremely vulnerable five to eleven year olds are not included in the national vaccination programme, leaving them at risk of catching Covid-19.

The spread of the Omicron variant in recent days has elevated concerns in government. Boris Johnson has recently announced that the government has brought their target forward for booster distribution for so that all eligible adults would be offered the booster before the end December. However, children aged five to eleven are still not included in the national vaccination programme, despite being recognised as some of the most vulnerable and being amongst the group told to shield at the start of the pandemic.

The current vaccination programme serves 12 year olds and above.

  • People aged 16 and over can get a first and second dose of a vaccine.
  • Most children aged 12 to 15 are currently only being offered a first dose.
  • A booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is available for everyone aged 18 and over, and some people aged 16 and over, who have had two doses of the vaccine at least three months ago.

The rare disease community has concerns that many children with rare conditions are immunosuppressed and are therefore more at risk of catching Covid-19 which could have serious impacts on their health.

Response from the Community

In response, Liz Twist MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rare, Genetic and Undiagnosed Conditions has submitted written parliamentary questions asking:

‘In advance of a market authorisation in the UK for a Covid-19 vaccine for five to 11 year olds, what considerations have been made to vaccinate clinically extremely vulnerable children aged five to 11 against Covid-19, such as children with complex respiratory and neurological conditions that make them more vulnerable to severe illness from Covid-19, and whether this is a priority for the department’ and ‘what steps are being taken to protect clinically extremely vulnerable children aged five to 11 from Covid-19, such as children with complex respiratory and neurological conditions’.

The wider disability community have also responded to the lack of provisions for children. Contact, the charity for families with disabled children, launched a campaign on 15 December 2021 to get high-risk children aged five to eleven access to the Covid-19 vaccine. The campaign asks for a ‘speedy decision’ from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on authorising the Covid vaccine to high-risk children aged five to eleven years old.

The MHRA approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in five to eleven year olds on 22 December 2021.

Families continue to shield themselves almost two years after the first national lockdown to protect their children with rare conditions with the hope that the vaccine will allow them to resume some level or normality. In the midst of the Omicron variant, the rare disease community hopes that the government will quickly deliver the vaccine to vulnerable five to eleven year olds, following the recent market authorisation given by the MHRA.