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Jabs for children aged five to 11 ‘may reduce risks of a new variant’

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accines for children aged five to 11 “may reduce the risks children may face in a possible future wave of this or another variant”, one expert has said.

Experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that children in this age bracket should be offered a lower dose of a Covid vaccine.

Children in England will begin to receive invites from April.

But officials have cautioned that the rollout should not interrupt vaccine programmes for other childhood illnesses such as measles or the HPV jab.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and member of the JCVI, said: “The risks posed by Covid in this age group are low but they exist and parents may wish to reduce them by having their children immunised.

“The programme will not impact significantly on the current Omicron wave in children but may reduce the risks children may face in a possible future wave of this or another variant.

“Common side effects such as fever, headaches and malaise do occur in some children following this vaccine but do not last more than a day or two in most cases. Nevertheless, they may result in some school absence.

“More serious side effects are reported in this age group but are extremely rare and are minimised by using a lower vaccine dose than in adults and a wide 12 week interval between the two doses.

“It will be important that the deployment of this part of the Covid vaccine programme does not result in children failing to receive doses of other important vaccines, for example against meningitis, cervical cancer and measles, in a timely way.”

(PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

Matt Keeling, professor of populations and disease at the University of Warwick, added: “It’s great to see this statement made public, and I’m sure it will be a substantial relief to many parents.

“We now have a very good understanding of the risks from the mRNA vaccines, and therefore know that the risks to this age group – who receive a smaller dose – are minimal.”

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