The Public Health Agency (PHA) is calling on the parents of 5 to 11 year olds to get their child vaccinated against COVID-19.
While most children aged 5 to 11 will have mild disease if they contract COVID-19, some may experience symptoms which last longer than just a few days. Vaccination of children in this age group has been shown to help prevent the small number of hospitalisations and intensive care admissions that can occur in this age group. It has also been shown to help provide short-term protection against non-severe disease.
Dr Jillian Johnston, Joint Interim Assistant Director in Health Protection at the PHA, said: “We know the COVID risk for young children is less than for older people, but we also know the vaccine is very safe, has already been used extensively around the world, and there is no evidence that it causes any long term issues. When you look at the risk of COVID-19 against the risk of the vaccine, it’s more beneficial for children to receive the vaccine. It not only boosts the child’s immunity against the risk of severe disease, but helps protect more vulnerable or older family members in advance of any potential future wave of COVID-19.”
A new specially-designed children’s formulation of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for this age group and it’s given at a lower dose compared with that used in individuals aged 12 and above (10 micrograms compared with 30 micrograms). Like all children’s vaccines, this approval was given following a robust review of data showing that it is safe and effective to use in this cohort.
Clinical trials have shown that this vaccine was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 in children, protecting them and also reducing the chance that they transmit the virus to others, including family members who may be more susceptible to severe consequences of the infection.
Dr Johnston continued by saying: “In Northern Ireland, childhood vaccination programmes have consistently achieved high coverage and we hope that parents will be supportive of this roll out and get their child vaccinated. Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill-health. Even if your child has already had COVID-19, it is still important to get them vaccinated, as being fully-vaccinated can offer them the best protection from the virus and severe disease.”
From Wednesday 2 March 2022 you can make an appointment for your child at a children’s vaccination clinic in your local Health and Social Care Trust using the online booking system at: covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated. You may be able to attend without an appointment.
Dr Johnston concluded: “COVID-19 has not gone away. Getting vaccinated provides the best protection for both the child and their family. Children will need two doses of the vaccine, usually 12 weeks apart, to get longer-lasting protection. If your child has tested positive for COVID-19, you should normally wait 12 weeks from the test for your child to have their first or second vaccine.”
For further information for parents on the COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds visit pha.site/all5-11s
Or to find out where your nearest COVID-19 vaccine clinic is, visit vaccinations.covid-19.hscni.net/location-search