Children on the island aged five to 11 at higher risk of COVID-19 will now be offered two doses of Pfizer.

The decision follows the latest advice from the Joint Commission on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in offering two doses of the COVID vaccine to young people aged five to 11 in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed.

The planning for this extension is currently underway on the island whilst all official documentation is received from the UK Gov and more information on when the rollout will begin will be provided in the New Year.

Health Minister Lawrie Hooper said: ‘Whilst COVID is typically very mild in most young children, there is a higher risk of severe illness and hospitalisation for those with underlying health conditions and two doses will provide vital protection against this.

‘I understand that some parents may have concerns but the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MRHA) has reviewed clinical trials and real-world data and approved the use of this lower dosage specifically for this age group, stating that the vaccine is safe and effective. They have also reported that the overwhelming majority have only had mild side-effects.’

Parents or guardians of children aged 12 or under will need to provide consent for their child to receive a vaccine. These individuals will be offered a second dose at least eight weeks after the first dose.

The new advice also includes extending the booster vaccine to at-risk 12-15 year olds and all 16 – 17 year olds no sooner than three months after their second dose.

Mr Hooper added: ‘Additionally, by offering a booster to all 16-17 year olds and vulnerable 12-15 year olds, we are providing that added increased protection against the Omicron variant.

‘If you are in one of the older age groups and are yet to come forward to have a first dose, I encourage everyone to do so, and when the time comes take up the offer for a booster. The vaccine offers the best defence against this virus and we all need to do our part to protect each other and our community.’

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