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Children aged five to 11 can get Covid jabs from next week with centres stocking up on ‘fidget toys’

Children aged five to 11 can get Covid jabs from next week… with medical centres stocking up on ‘fidget toys’ to distract them during injection

  • Vaccine centres will go to extra lengths to make the experience ‘stress-free’
  • Six million in this group will be offered a jab but take-up is expected to be slow
  • Children will be given two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

The NHS will start giving Covid jabs to healthy five to 11-year-olds next week – with the help of toys to distract them.

Vaccine centres will go to extra lengths to make the experience ‘as stress-free as possible’ for children and parents, Dr Emily Lawson of NHS England told MPs.

All six million in this age group will be offered a vaccine but take-up is expected to be slow and continue throughout spring, the national director for vaccine deployment said. 

The NHS will start giving Covid jabs to healthy five to 11-year-olds next week – with the help of toys to distract them (stock image)

Addressing the public accounts committee yesterday, Dr Lawson added: ‘Sites have purchased things like fidget toys for distraction.’

Children having the jab will be given two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a third of the strength of an adult dose, at least 12 weeks apart.

Dr Lawson said: ‘The rollout for the non at-risk five to elevens starts next week.

‘We’ve been working with local systems to make the most of their entrepreneurship to make the centres appropriate for five to 11 year olds.

‘We’ve seen brilliant examples from sites, so in Derby, for example, they’ve designed a vaccination town where the whole building has effectively been redesigned and painted to make it welcoming for children.

‘We’ve increased the length of the appointment on the national booking service to make sure that children their parents have the right time to sit and make the decision and children don’t feel rushed.’

Dr Lawson said the NHS has used focus groups and polling to establish what would make parents feel comfortable vaccinating their children.

She added: ‘I think bearing in mind some of the lessons learned from other groups where we’ve been concerned about uptake, giving people time, we recognise this is not going to be a quick vaccination of a cohort in a short amount of time.

Parents will be given the choice of whether to vaccinate their kids, with jabs offered in vaccination centres and pharmacies (stock image)

Parents will be given the choice of whether to vaccinate their kids, with jabs offered in vaccination centres and pharmacies (stock image)

‘This is going to need to give people the chance to come forward when they’re ready, which means these sites need to be prepared to vaccinate through the spring.’ Ministers accepted a recommendation from expert advisors to make a low-dose version of the vaccine available on a ‘non-urgent’ basis.

Parents will be given the choice of whether to vaccinate their kids, with jabs offered in vaccination centres and pharmacies.

The paediatric dose is a third of the strength of an adult dose after research showed that the immune response from a lower dose in those aged five to 11 is just as good as a full dose for 16 to 25-year-olds.

Dr Lawson said the NHS is preparing to offer a booster jab to a larger cohort of adults in autumn, subject to the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Officials are also considering whether to switch to newly formulated vaccines that may better target coronavirus variants, MPs heard.

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