England has announced a vaccine mandate for young children aged five to eleven years; the age group is considered most at risk of coronavirus.
The move comes after the UK drugs regulator approved a low-dose version of a Covid vaccine for children last month, deeming safe and effective.
In December 2021, the government’s vaccine advisers, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, recommended around 500,000 young children at the highest risk being given the jabs.
Covid infections are rising, but infections are not severe for young children. Children with disabilities or long term diseases are at risk.
Children suffering from serious illness are more vulnerable to infection, and those living with vulnerable adults could pass the infection on.
Most jabs will be given by GP-led teams and in hospital hubs. Officials say parents and guardians should wait to be invited by the NHS.
Young children at risk will be offered two Pfizer vaccines eight weeks apart – at a third of the adult dose.
It is widely used in other countries; more than five million children have been given it in the US alone.
The NHS has already delivered more than three million vaccinations to people aged 12 to 17.
Separately, NHS England plans to send out flu vaccine reminders to the parents and guardians of eligible children.
In England, this includes all two-and-three-year-olds and all pupils from reception age to school leavers to drive up protection from the virus.
Deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme, GP Dr Nikki Kanani, urged parents not to delay getting vaccinated their child.
She said: “We know vaccines give significant protection against severe illness from Covid – including the Omicron variant – so it is important that our youngest and most at risk get protected.”