Babies with underlying conditions will be offered a Covid vaccine, UK health chiefs confirmed today.
Around 60,000 infants aged six months to four years will be eligible for two Pfizer jabs.
They include children with poorly controlled asthma and issues affecting their heart, kidneys, liver or digestive system.
While Covid poses a small threat to the overwhelming majority of children, some are at risk of a more serious illness. Jabs are the ‘best way to increase their protection’, according to the Government’s vaccine taskforce.
NHS sites will begin offering jabs in mid-June. Parents should wait to be contacted before coming forward, officials said.
Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests that 51 under-fours have died of Covid since the pandemic began.
Yet this toll includes anyone who has tested positive for the virus within four weeks of dying, so could be a slight overestimate.
In a report published today, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the Government on the jab rollout, said eligible youngsters should be offered two 3-microgram doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, at least eight weeks apart.
If a child has recently been infected with the virus, they should not be jabbed until at least four weeks later, it said.
Further advise on third doses of the low-dose formulation for those in the cohort who are immunosuppressed will be issue ‘in due course’, the JCVI said.
Healthy children in the age group are not currently eligible, it added.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI’s COVID-19 Committee, said: ‘For the vast majority of infants and children, Covid causes only mild symptoms, or sometimes no symptoms.
‘However, for a small group of children with pre-existing health conditions it can lead to more serious illness, and for them, vaccination is the best way to increase their protection.’
The JCVI’s advice follows a review of Covid vaccine trials among children in the US, including safety data and monitoring the virus amongst youngsters in the UK.
Data suggests that at-risk children aged six months to four years are seven times more likely to be admitted to intensive care with severe Covid, it said.
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