- “The NHS (National Health Service) will prepare to extend this non-emergency offer to all children in April,” said Health Secretary Javid.
- Other countries around the world, including Israel, China and Argentina, have also started poking the age group.
- Some countries, such as Sweden, have opted against the move and continue to recommend injections only for children at risk.
LONDON: All children aged 5 to 11 in England will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine, the British government said on Wednesday, following similar announcements in the rest of the UK.
The move, nearly two months after UK regulators approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s injection for use among the age group, sees Britain following the lead of the United States, the European Union and other countries.
It has only vaccinated at-risk children under 12 and those living with immunosuppressed people, using a lower-dose formulation of the shot that was found to be “safe and effective.”
However, Health Minister Sajid Javid, who is responsible only for England, said he had now accepted guidelines from the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee, which advises UK health departments, to expand the rollout.
“The NHS (National Health Service) will prepare to extend this non-emergency offer to all children in April so that parents, if they wish, can take advantage of the offer to protect against potential future waves of COVID-19 increase as we learn to live. with this virus,” he said in a statement.
Javid added that the priority remained to provide vaccines and boosters to adults and vulnerable young people, noting that children with no underlying health conditions are at low risk of serious illness from the coronavirus.
Hours earlier, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland would also start jabbing five- to 11-year-olds, while Wales unveiled the same policy the previous day.
Northern Ireland also followed on Wednesday.
The US was the first major country to start stinging under-12s in November, saying 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 approval from U.S. health regulators to use their vaccine in children over six months of age and under five years of age.
Meanwhile, the European Union’s drug watchdog approved the companies’ injection for five- to 11-year-olds in November, and several EU countries started vaccinating them the following month.
Other countries around the world, including Israel, China and Argentina, have also started poking the age group.
However, some countries, such as Sweden, have opted against the move and continue to recommend injections only for children at risk.
Meanwhile, Africa is lagging behind the more developed world in vaccinating its adult population.
Just over 11 percent of Africans have been vaccinated, the lowest rate in the world, according to the World Health Organization.