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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Get your children vaccinated against Covid, parents are told

What happens next?

NHS England will begin writing to School Aged Immunisation Service providers to prepare to begin the rollout. It is understood 60 providers will deliver Covid jabs in schools.

Public Health England will also initially communicate with schools about the next steps of the rollout and what they should expect.

Before NHS England can begin vaccinating children, the Green Book, which provides the latest information on vaccines and vaccination procedures for doctors, also needs to be updated on dosage use and guidelines.

What is the School Aged Immunisation Service (SAIS)?

The SAIS are experienced providers which work with the NHS to deliver vaccines to school-aged children. How many vaccinators there are per provider will vary across the country and be dependent on the size of the school.

Typically, paediatric and school nurses deliver vaccines on behalf of these providers. It is understood that a handful of nurses working for a provider could vaccinate a whole school in one day.

When will parents receive letters asking for their consent?

Public Health England is developing a national protocol and materials relating to consent for this age cohort. Until that is completed, SAIS cannot begin vaccinating.

Parents and guardians are expected to receive information explaining the risks and benefits of vaccinating their children, as well as asking for their consent, within the next week.

This information goes out in relation to any vaccination programme in schools. Other examples include jabs for flu and HPV.

Royal colleges, including the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health, are expected to be involved in writing this literature, so the vaccine is explained clearly to parents and children.

Which vaccine will children be offered?

Children aged 12 to 15 will be offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The chief medical officers of the four home nations believe that offering one dose is enough to significantly reduce the risk of a child catching Covid and reduce the risk of them transmitting the virus. This may be reviewed later on depending on the latest data.

What will the rollout look like in schools?

Similar to other vaccination rollouts in schools, it is expected that space will be made in classrooms or sports halls for jabs to be administered. Arrangements could also be made for children to travel to vaccination sites.

Depending on the size of the school, vaccinators could work year group by year group, or complete the entire student body in one day.

What if my child does not attend school?

It will be the responsibility of the local SAIS provider to identify all eligible children for vaccination. They will co-ordinate different arrangements for children who are not in school, such as those who are home-schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health facilities.

What are other countries doing?

France was one of the first countries in Europe to begin vaccinating over-12s in June. As of August 19, 56 per cent of the country’s 12- to 17-year-olds had received one dose. 

Switzerland also approved the Pfizer jab for over-12s in June, while in Italy 12- to 15-year-olds were authorised to receive Pfizer vaccines in May, with bookings beginning in July.

Outside of Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates also decided to jab children over 12.

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