UK to offer COVID vaccine to all children aged 5-11 – Manila Bulletin

LONDON, UK — All children aged 5 to 11 in England will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine, the UK government announced on Wednesday, following similar announcements across the rest of the UK.

The move, which comes nearly two months after UK regulators approved the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in the age group, sees Britain following the lead of the US, EU European and other countries.

It only vaccinated at-risk under-12s and those living with immunocompromised people, using a low-dose formulation of the vaccine that was found to be ‘safe and effective’.

However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid – who is only responsible for England – said he had now accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which advises the UK health service, to expand the deployment.

“The NHS (National Health Service) will be preparing to extend this non-emergency offer to all children in April so that parents can, if they wish, take up the offer to increase protection against potential future waves of Covid- 19 as we learn to live with this virus,” he said in a statement.

Javid added that the priority remained to offer vaccines and boosters to vulnerable adults and young people, noting that children without underlying health conditions are at low risk of serious illness from coronavirus.

Hours earlier, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland would also start stinging children aged 5 to 11, while Wales unveiled the same policy the day before.

Northern Ireland also followed suit on Wednesday.

The United States was the first major country to start biting under-12s in November and said last month it had vaccinated more than eight million of them so far.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced earlier this month that they are seeking emergency clearance from US health officials for the use of their shot for children over six months and under five years of age.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s medicines watchdog approved the companies’ vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 in November, and several EU countries began vaccinating them the following month.

Other countries around the world, including Israel, China and Argentina, have also started to sting the age group.

However, some countries such as Sweden have opted against this decision, continuing to recommend injections only for children at risk.

Meanwhile, Africa lags behind the more developed world in vaccinating its adult population.

Just over 11% of Africans are vaccinated, the lowest rate in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

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