Health chiefs across Hertfordshire and west Essex are drawing-up plans to vaccinate ALL primary school children, it has emerged.
Nationally the government has already backed advice for children aged five to 11 who are in a clinical risk group – or who live with someone who is immuno-suppressed – to be offered the vaccination.
And across the Herts and West Essex area there are plans to start immunising that group – of about 1,500 children – this week (from January 31).
Now – in a report submitted to a joint meeting of the area’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – it has emerged local health chiefs are already making plans to immunise healthy five-11 year-olds too.
But those plans would only be implemented if wholesale vaccination of primary age children was authorised nationally.
The ongoing plans are highlighted in a ‘primary care update’ report to a joint meeting of the three CCGs.
It states: “In addition, the Vaccination programme is currently drafting plans for the healthy 5 – 11-year-olds which is currently being developed in partnership with all stakeholders.”
Following the meeting, Beverley Flowers, Deputy CEO Herts Valleys, West Essex and East & North Hertfordshire CCGs, said the vaccination of such a large number of children would be “a considerable undertaking”.
And she said the developing of plans would mean the vaccinations could be implemented quickly – should national health chiefs give the go-ahead.
“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is currently reviewing the evidence before coming to a conclusion about whether healthy children aged 5-11 should also be offered a Covid vaccination,” she said.
“Vaccinating a new group of children of this size will be a considerable undertaking, so we are making plans to ensure that we can move quickly if and when the JCVI advises this.”
Meanwhile the vaccination of more clinically vulnerable children in the county is due to start this week (from January 31) – with eligible children due to be invited for vaccination within the next two weeks.
Commenting on the plans, Ms Flowers said: “Clinically vulnerable children aged 5-11, and children in this age group who live with someone who is immuno-suppressed, will start to be able to receive the Covid-19 vaccination from 31 January onwards.
“Parents and carers of children who are eligible should be invited by their GP in the next two weeks, and anyone with a child in one of the eligible groups who hasn’t had their invitation by 11 February should then contact their GP for a vaccination appointment.
“Parents of eligible children who go to a special educational needs school will be contacted via their child’s school.
“They will be asked to give their consent for their child having their vaccination while they are at their school.”
There will, according to the report to the meeting be an eight week interval between first and second doses for the cohort of clinically vulnerable children.
And any of those children who has recently been infected with Covid-19 will have to wit four weeks before vaccination.
The joint meeting of the three CCGs – East and North Herts, Herts Valleys and West Essex – was held on January 27.