Covid vaccine: JCVI advises clinically vulnerable children aged six months to four years should be offered jab

The official committee recommends COVID-19 vaccine for children between six months and four years old with underlying medical conditions.

Clinically vulnerable children aged six months to four years should be offered a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised.

Despite young children having an overall low risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, some children and infants who have underlying medical conditions are seven times more likely to be admitted to paediatric intensive care units.

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Since June 2022 in the United States, over one million children aged six months to four years have received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that the most common side effects reported were similar to those seen with other vaccines given in this age group.

However, in the United Kingdom, it was only at the end of last year - on December 6, 2022 - that the the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) first authorised use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged six months to four years.

Following the authorisation last year, the JCVI has now advised that children aged six months to four years who are in a clinical risk group should be offered the vaccine. However, the JCVI “does not currently advise COVID-19 vaccination of children aged six months to four years who are not in a clinical risk group.”

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI’s COVID-19 committee, said: “For the vast majority of infants and children, COVID-19 causes only mild symptoms, or sometimes no symptoms. However, for a small group of children with pre-existing health conditions it can lead to more serious illness and, for them, vaccination is the best way to increase their protection.”

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NHS nurses are among the groups struggling to afford to eat (image: Getty Images)NHS nurses are among the groups struggling to afford to eat (image: Getty Images)
NHS nurses are among the groups struggling to afford to eat (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “COVID-19 is still in circulation, with thousands of new cases reported every week. The extra protection offered by the vaccine could be important for young children in clinical risk groups, who are at greater risk of severe illness. The virus is not going away so I would encourage all parents to bring their child forward if they are eligible. Parents should wait to be contacted by their local health professionals.”

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