How to book a Covid jab for your child — with slots now open for five to 11-year-olds in England

Bookings opened on Saturday, April 2 for children aged five to 11 in England to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

Children will be offered two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, at least 12 weeks apart, at a third of the normal strength.

Here, we explore everything you need to know about Covid jabs for children – from how to book to possible side effects.

How can parents book a vaccination for their children?

Parents and carers can now arrange appointments through the NHS vaccines website or by calling 119. NHS England said hundreds of sites will offer jabs, with more coming on stream throughout this week.

Most new appointments will be at local vaccination centres or community pharmacies outside of school hours, and there will be walk-in clinics available, with timings on the NHS Grab a Jab website.

NHS England said more appointments will be added throughout the week so anyone unable to get a convenient slot should keep trying. It is likely that you will need to know your child’s NHS number to book.

Alternatively, parents can wait to be contacted by a local NHS service such as their GP surgery to arrange the appointments.

Can I book a vaccine if my child has symptoms?

According to the NHS, if your child has a confirmed Covid infection and is not considered high risk, “they need to wait 12 weeks before they can have a Covid-19 vaccine”.

Children who have tested positive and are considered high risk, or if they live with someone who has a weakened immune system, should only wait four weeks.

Alternatively, if your child has symptoms, but has not had a test, they should wait until their symptoms have cleared up before they get jabbed.

What are the potential side effects in children?

All Covid vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict safety standards but jabs can still cause some side effects in children – not everyone will get them and they should wear off after a day or two.

These include:

  • sore arm from the injection
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • feeling achy
  • flu-like symptoms including shivering (chills)

Why are children being offered the Covid vaccine?

Some five million children are eligible for the jab, following on from the success of the campaign to vaccinate vulnerable youngsters with health conditions.

Covid is mild in most children but it can make some very unwell.

Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, told Sky News: “This is now a vaccine-preventable disease and the vaccine is safer than the disease.

“It’s a very unpleasant illness for children. And if they have a weakened immune system or if they live in a family where a member has a weakened immune system, the consequences can be devastating. So yes I am pleased.”

Prof Semple, who advises the Government as part of Sage, said the vaccine will reduce days lost from education.

Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and the deputy lead for the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, said: “Parents of almost five million five to 11-year-olds can book their little ones in for a vaccine, ensuring they get their first dose of protection and helping to protect against potential future waves of Covid-19.

“Vaccines remain the best defence we have against the virus – my 13-year-old son has had his two vaccinations and I’ll be booking my 10-year-old daughter in for hers at the earliest opportunity, and would encourage all parents to read the NHS information available and consider doing the same.”

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