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Covid-19 vaccinations for at risk 5 - 11 year olds

9 February 2022

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that 5 - 11 year olds who are either in a clinical risk group or are a household contact of someone of any age who has a weakened immune system (immunosuppressed) should be offered 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with a minimum of 8 weeks between doses.

The NHS will be in touch with parents in the coming weeks if their child is eligible, so please wait to hear and do not contact your GP practice. Parents will need to give consent for their child to be vaccinated.

GPs and hospital specialists have been asked to identify 5 - 11 year olds who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. For children eligible as a household contact, the person who is immunosuppressed will be written to directly. Parents and guardians will be notified if their child should be offered the vaccine and told how they can book an appointment.

Where will children be given their vaccine?

Vaccination services have been asked to make preparations to vaccinate this group of younger children and consider necessary reasonable adjustments to meet their needs on an individual basis, to ensure a positive experience. It is expected that most children will be vaccinated at a site run by local GPs, a hospital or a specialist children’s centre. In cases where this isn’t possible, local arrangements will be in place with community pharmacies, vaccination centres, hospital hubs, housebound teams and in some cases at special schools. Parents or guardians will also be able to take their child to a walk-in appointment, however it’s important to be aware that not every site will be able to offer vaccination for this group. 

Please use our online walk-in site finder  to make sure you choose the right site. If this is your preferred option, remember to take the letter from your child’s GP or hospital confirming their eligibility for the vaccine along to the appointment. You cannot currently book your child’s vaccination appointment by calling 119 or on the NHS website.

What are the eligibility criteria for the clinical risk group for 5 - 11 year olds?

Children considered at higher risk of severe COVID-19 include those who have:

  • chronic respiratory disease
  • chronic heart conditions
  • chronic conditions of the kidney, liver or digestive system
  • chronic neurological disease
  • severe, profound or multiple learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome or are on the learning disability register
  • endocrine disorders
  • a weakened immune system due to a treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
  • asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
  • serious genetic irregularities that affect a number of systems, including mitochondrial disease and chromosomal abnormalities

Children who are about to receive planned immunosuppressive therapy should be considered for vaccination before they begin their therapy.

What are the eligibility criteria for 5 - 11 year olds classed as a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed?

Children aged 5 - 11 years who share living accommodation with individuals of any age who are immunosuppressed will be entitled to COVID-19 vaccination.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines for 5 - 11 year olds the same as those used for adults?

The preferred option for children in this group is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 10 micrograms dose concentrate. However, it is recognised that in some situations, where it is in the best interests of the patient, clinicians may decide to vaccinate children under the age of 12 with a smaller volume of the adult version of the vaccine (known as a fractionated dose).

What adjustments are being made to support children with additional needs attending vaccination appointments?

Our standards require sites to allocate more time for vaccinating children. If a child will require any reasonable adjustments at their vaccination appointment, we encourage you to make any requirements needed known when you are booking the appointment on behalf of your child. It is important services are aware of any appropriate arrangements needed in advance.

What safeguarding measures are the NHS putting in place?

Additional safeguarding standards will be in place for staff involved in vaccinating this age group. All the clinical staff working in the centre are required to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. In addition, all staff (excluding stewards) must have additional bespoke training.

Will vaccination staff be offered special training?

A number of additional resources have been prepared to assist providers in preparing the workforce and the environment for young children. All staff involved in vaccinating 5 - 11 year olds will have appropriate training specific to communicating with and vaccinating this age group. For staff vaccinating children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), all clinical staff are required to have the skill and competencies to care for this group of patients.

Will vaccination appointments be available at flexible times to fit around families’ work and school commitments?

Vaccination sites should ensure a range of times are available which are convenient to parents and children.

Can vaccination be provided with a nasal spray like with flu?

No, the COVID-19 vaccine is currently only available as an injection.

What happens if my local GP has opted out of giving vaccines to this age group?

GPs who aren’t providing vaccinations to this age group have been asked to identify all eligible patients on their lists and ensure they receive an invitation for vaccination at another local site.

If you'd like more information about vaccinations for children with SEND visit Contact's information on vaccines.

An update on COVID-19 vaccination plans for 12-15 year olds in Hertfordshire

10 September 2021

Who is eligible to get the vaccine now?

The 12 - 15 year olds currently being offered the COVID-19 vaccine are those who live with someone who has a suppressed (weakened) immune system, and children who have a condition that means that they themselves are at high risk from COVID-19.

These children are being offered 2 doses of a vaccine approved for their age group, which will be given 8 weeks apart.

GPs have been using their records to identify:

  • Children aged 12 - 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s syndrome or underlying conditions resulting in a weakened immune system.
  • Children with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register.
  • Children aged 12 years and over who are household contacts of people with weakened immune systems. Please note, there are adults who are extremely clinically vulnerable because of a health condition whose 12-15 year old children are NOT recommended to have a COVID vaccination.  The eligibility for this programme is strictly defined, so that vaccines are given to those most at risk. GPs decide who is eligible based on the guidance from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Where and when will these children be vaccinated?

A number of the children identified by their GPs are being vaccinated by their network of GP practices.

Where GP practices are not vaccinating their own patients, they have provided lists of eligible 12-15 year old patients to Hertfordshire Community Trust (HCT), the NHS organisation which administers school-aged children’s vaccinations in Hertfordshire. HCT have been commissioned to vaccinate these children.

HCT staff routinely vaccinate children with profound and multiple disabilities, or who are on the learning disability register, in their familiar school environment. HCT are in the process of gaining consent from the parents or guardians of these children to administer their COVID-19 vaccinations in their specialist schools. This vaccination programme starts on 13 September.

For children who have been identified as eligible but who attend mainstream school, or who are educated at home, 4 special clinics have been commissioned in Hertfordshire and west Essex that parents can take their children to. 

  • These one-off clinics are dedicated to vaccinating only 12-15 year old children and are being held over the next 10 days in Epping, Ware, Watford  and Bishop’s Stortford, from Sunday 12 September onwards. Clinics will take place at the weekends, or after schools have finished for the day. 

Parents and carers of eligible children are being contacted with the details of these clinics, together with contact information for HCT, in case they have queries or concerns. Individual catch-up arrangements will be made for children who cannot attend these clinics.

What if a child is eligible to be vaccinated but has not yet been contacted?

Parents and carers of the 12-15 year olds who meet the criteria described above should have been contacted, either by their own GP, via their child’s special school, or through a text or phone call from HCT. 

If you have not been contacted, you should speak to your own GP practice and request they provide your child with a vaccination, or alternatively refer your child to HCT.

What about additional children recently recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccination?

On Friday 3 September, the JCVI recommended that more 12-15 year old children should be added to the list of those eligible to be vaccinated, including those with:

GPs will now begin to identify these additional children, so that they can be vaccinated as well.

What about plans for vaccinating all 12-15 year-old children?

We are awaiting government decision on vaccination policy for the remainder of the 12-15 year old population. We will let you know about local arrangements if a decision to offer the vaccination is made.

How should I follow up a concern?

If you have a concern, for example, if you think that your child is eligible to be vaccinated but hasn’t been contacted, you should contact your own GP practice in the first instance. 

Failing this, you can contact the Clinical Commissioning Group which oversees the vaccination arrangements in your area. 

Children and young people no longer considered as clinically extremely vulnerable

27 August 2021

Recent clinical studies have shown that children and young people are at very low risk of serious illness if they catch Coronavirus. Therefore children and young people who were originally thought to be at high risk from coronavirus are no longer considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable and should continue to follow the same guidance as everyone else. This recommendation was agreed to by the Chief Medical Officers of the UK.

It is important that your child continues to attend their school or setting. All early years providers, schools and colleges are continuing to put in place measures to help minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.  

A very small number of children and young people will have been advised to isolate or reduce their social contact for short periods of time by their specialist, due to the nature of their medical condition or treatment rather than because of the pandemic. If this is the case for your child, they should continue to follow the advice of their specialist.   

Accessing NHS services

It is important that your child or young person continues to receive the care and support they need to stay safe and well. Providers of social care and medical services are making every effort to ensure services remain open and as safe as possible, and you should continue to seek support from the NHS for their existing health conditions.

You can access a range of NHS services from home, including ordering repeat prescriptions or contacting a health professional through an online consultation. Find out more about the NHS - health at home.

Covid-19 vaccination for children and young people ages 16 - 17 and 12 - 15

18 August 2021

For people aged 16 - 17

All 16 to 17 year olds should be offered a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. We expect that a second vaccine dose will be offered later, after there is more understanding about the effectiveness and safety in this age group.

This is in addition to the existing offer of 2 doses of vaccine to 16 to 17 year olds who are in ‘at-risk’ groups and who are household contacts of people (adults or children) who have a weakened immune system (these groups have already been offered vaccination in Hertfordshire).

17 year olds within 3 months of their 18th birthday are now being invited by text to book their COVID-19 vaccinations through the National Booking Service (on the NHS website or by calling 119). Where there is no recorded mobile number, letters will be sent. They will have 2 doses of the vaccine. Invitations will then progress through the younger age groups.

For people aged 12 - 15

Young people aged 12 to 15 years with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19, should be offered 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine with an interval of 8 weeks between doses. Young people aged 12 years and over who are household contacts of people (adults or children) who have a weakened immune system should also be offered 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine.

This currently includes children with:

  • severe neuro-disabilities
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • underlying conditions resulting in a weakened immune system
  • profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD)
  • severe learning disabilities
  • or children who are on the learning disability register.

Further details on the exact groups will be provided as updates in the Green Book on vaccination.

The offer of vaccination may help to reduce the stress and anxiety experienced by some children and young people in these groups.

Young people in the 12 - 15 categories above will now start to receive invitations to attend for vaccination. Many young people with underlying conditions have already been fully vaccinated.

Information and informed consent

The offer of vaccination to children and young people will always be accompanied by appropriate information to help children and young people understand the benefits and risks of vaccination, to make sure they can provide informed consent.

Younger children (nursery and primary age)

Clinical trials are underway in pre-school and primary-school aged students. Vaccines are only likely to be approved for use in these age groups after summer 2021.

Walk-in clinics for under 18s

We expect that walk-in clinics will be opened to people under 18 very shortly. This will be widely publicised. Further details of where vaccines are available in Hertfordshire.

Reasonable Adjustments

View Mencap's document on how vaccine centres can make reasonable adjustments for your young person's vaccine appointment: Vaccine_reasonable_adjustments.pdf (mencap.org.uk)

Test and Trace £500 payments for parents

15 April 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) have announced that parents and carers of children who have been advised to self-isolate by their education setting or by NHS Test and Trace are now able to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500, if they are eligible (which includes being in receipt of certain low-income benefits).

The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is arranged through district and borough councils in Hertfordshire, and ensures that parents receive some financial support if they are unable to attend work due to childcare responsibilities and are unable to work from home. Learn more on GOV.uk about test and trace support payments.

The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme ends on Wednesday 30 June.

Nurseries, schools, colleges and further education providers are required to provide a letter to all parents or carers of children advised to self-isolate, to support their application to the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Which district am I in?

Information about face coverings in schools

9 April 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) announced on Tuesday (6 April) that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary schools and college classrooms when students return after the Easter break.

Those who rely on visual signals for communication, or speak to or provide support to those individuals, are still exempt from any requirement to wear face coverings in schools or in public places.

It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 17 May. At that point, the next easing of restrictions, including increased social contact indoors, will be confirmed following a review of the latest data on infection and vaccination rates.

There are updates on gov.uk's following guidance to reflect this announcement:

 

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