UNDER-11s at risk of Covid will start receiving their first vaccine this week to help further protect the country from the virus.
Half a million children aged 5-11 will be eligible to get their first dose after the move was signed off by independent experts.
Medical staff will be based at 850 sites to give eligible children who have conditions such as diabetes or learning disabilitiesCredit: PA
The move comes as cases rise across year groups in Primary and Secondary schools, according to the latest official figures.
Medical staff will be based at 850 sites to give eligible children who have conditions such as diabetes or learning disabilities.
Kids who are in a clinical risk group or live with someone who is immunosuppressed will also be able to get their first jab.
They will be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer vaccine which is a third of the amount used for adult vaccinations following approval by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
A second jab will then be offered eight weeks later as part of the fastest vaccination programme in NHS history.
More than 3.5 million jabs have already been given to those aged 12-17 including 2.4 million first doses.
Parents are also being reminded that their children can get their flu vaccine as millions of reminder texts, letters and emails being sent out next week.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “I would like parents and guardians to be reassured that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness had been met.
“I encourage as many as possible to make sure they get their child the jab when contacted – the paediatric vaccine will offer the best possible protection for your child.”
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for NHS vaccinations, said: “We know vaccines give significant protection against severe illness from covid – including the omicron variant, so it is important that our youngest and most at-risk get protected.
“The NHS is now vaccinating the most at risk 5-11 year olds ensuring they get their vital dose of protection.
“Thousands of young people are still getting protected every day with millions vaccinated so far and we are asking parents not to delay coming forward – as soon as the NHS contacts you, please come forward so the NHS can protect their youngest against the virus.”
Meanwhile, Ministers are “reflecting” on mandatory vaccination for NHS staff in England which comes into force on April 1.
But to meet the deadline health workers must have their first jab by this Thursday.