The NHS will start giving Covid jabs to healthy five to 11-year-olds next week – with the help of toys to distract them.
Vaccine centres will go to extra lengths to make the experience ‘as stress-free as possible’ for children and parents, Dr Emily Lawson of NHS England told MPs.
All six million in this age group will be offered a vaccine but take-up is expected to be slow and continue throughout spring, the national director for vaccine deployment said.
Addressing the public accounts committee yesterday, Dr Lawson added: ‘Sites have purchased things like fidget toys for distraction.’
Children having the jab will be given two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a third of the strength of an adult dose, at least 12 weeks apart.
Dr Lawson said: ‘The rollout for the non at-risk five to elevens starts next week.
‘We’ve been working with local systems to make the most of their entrepreneurship to make the centres appropriate for five to 11 year olds.
‘We’ve seen brilliant examples from sites, so in Derby, for example, they’ve designed a vaccination town where the whole building has effectively been redesigned and painted to make it welcoming for children.
‘We’ve increased the length of the appointment on the national booking service to make sure that children their parents have the right time to sit and make the decision and children don’t feel rushed.’
Dr Lawson said the NHS has used focus groups and polling to establish what would make parents feel comfortable vaccinating their children.
She added: ‘I think bearing in mind some of the lessons learned from other groups where we’ve been concerned about uptake, giving people time, we recognise this is not going to be a quick vaccination of a cohort in a short amount of time.