Thousands of children in Hampshire and Isle of Wight have come forward to get their first COVID-19 jabs and local NHS encourages more to book their appointment now

HEALTH leaders in Hampshire and Isle of Wight are reminding people to attend their COVID-19 vaccination appointments as they thank the thousands of children who have already had their jab.

In April, children aged between 5 and 11 started to receive their invitation from the NHS to get vaccinated. This came after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended all children would benefit from the vaccine to help protect against potential future waves of COVID-19 and the risk of serious illness. This offer is in addition to the regular programme of vaccinations such as measles and flu that children are advised to have.

Since then, over 14,000 children aged 5 to 11 in Hampshire and Isle of Wight have received their first dose of the vaccine. Children with underlying health conditions were invited to have their jab before April.

As well as protecting children and young people against serious infection, getting vaccinated also reduces the risk of passing it onto others. We know getting vaccinated can also help reduce the risk of disruption to education.

Children aged 5 to 11 who have had COVID-19 recently should leave 12 weeks between when they were positive to when they book their vaccination. While children aged between 5 to 11 who are at high risk from COVID-19 or live with someone who has a weakened immune system must wait 4 weeks after first having symptoms. The vaccine gives stronger protection than natural immunity and lowers the risk of passing it onto others.

Dr Matt Nisbet, GP and Clinical Lead for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, said: “The response to the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Hampshire and Isle of Wight has been fantastic. I would like to reassure children and parents that their safety is our top priority and no new vaccine for children would have been approved if it hadn’t been through a detailed safety review.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps protect children and their families against this virus, as well as reducing the impact it can have on our children’s education so I would strongly urge everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

While demand has been high for appointments for this age group, some mass vaccination centres have seen around 20 per cent (110 appointments on 15 May) of appointments over the weekend missed. This means others waiting to get vaccinated are delayed, so we would ask anyone who cannot attend to either rebook in advance through the national booking system or contact 119.

If parents or guardians have any questions about getting their child vaccinated, they can contact the Hampshire and Isle of Wight COVID-19 helpline on 0300 561 0018. The helpline is also able to give information in a wide range of languages and book you an appointment if you are unsure what is available locally.

Angela Anderson, Deputy Chief Nurse & Clinical Director for the vaccination service at Solent NHS Trust, said: “The decision to get your child vaccinated, as a parent or guardian, is yours. Not only can the vaccine help protect your child against serious COVID infection, it can also reduce the risk of passing on the infection to others. So, if you or your child haven’t yet received the vaccine, why not book an appointment or come and speak to the teams at one of our centres as soon as you are able - they will be there to welcome you and answer any questions you may have.

“Our 5 to 11 vaccination clinics have been really positive, and our fantastic teams have created a child and family friendly atmosphere to ensure that children are as comfortable as possible when getting their jabs, with games and toys available for children to play with and regular visits from our therapy dog. We’re proud of the work we are doing as part of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight programme and have had great feedback from both parents and children.”

Anyone eligible who has not yet taken up the offer of a first, second or booster dose is strongly encouraged to do so without delay to ensure they are as protected as possible from the virus. The offer of a COVID-19 jab is not time-limited so anyone invited can have the vaccine – even if they have previously declined and changed their mind.
To cancel or move a COVID-19 vaccine appointment booked through National Booking Service, please visit the website or call 119 (open between 7am and 11pm daily).

If you need to cancel or move an appointment booked via a pharmacy or your GP practice, please contact them directly.

You can also contact the Hampshire and Isle of Wight COVID-19 helpline on 0300 561 0018 (Open between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm at weekends).