COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered to all children aged 5 to 11 from early April in the latest phase of the vaccine programme.

Parents or carers will receive an invite from local NHS services, inviting them to book an appointment for children in this age group.

Having the COVID-19 vaccine reduces the likelihood of further disruption to their education, developing Long COVID and passing the infection onto vulnerable family members and friends.

For most children, COVID-19 is a mild illness that may require a few days off school, but rarely leads to complications. For a very few children, the symptoms may be more serious or last longer.

While the current Omicron variant appears to be particularly mild in children it is not known whether future variants will be as mild.

Children aged 5-11 with no other underlying health conditions will be offered two paediatric (child) doses of the vaccine, with at least 12 weeks between doses. A paediatric dose is smaller than doses given to those aged 12 and over.

Children who are at greater risk of serious illness if they catch COVID-19, such as those who have a learning disability, weakened immune system, Down’s Syndrome, severe neurodisabilities or a long-term serious condition, will need two doses of vaccine, eight weeks apart. Local NHS services should be in touch to arrange this.

If a child has had COVID-19 they will still get extra protection from the vaccine, but they will need to wait 12 weeks before getting vaccinated.

There are two main ways to access a vaccination for eligible children in Gloucestershire.

They are:

Via appointment at community vaccination centre

The bulk of vaccinations will be provided by appointment GP-led community vaccination centres across the county. Please note that these appointments are not available on the national booking system (NBS), people will receive an invite directly from local NHS services to book (often via text if your GP practice has a contact number).

Please note that not all of the existing vaccination centres have a suitable environment or staff available who are able to vaccinate this age group, so people may be invited to book an appointment for their children at a different location to where they had their own jabs.

Via the national booking system (NBS)

People may choose to book an appointment at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Jab Van or a community pharmacy across the county using the NBS telephone number, 119, or via the NBS website.

Dr Andy Seymour, Clinical Chair, NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said:

“The upcoming Easter holiday is the perfect time to get your children vaccinated. It’s also not too late for others who haven’t yet had their jabs, including children who were previously offered the vaccination due to a health condition, older brothers and sisters and mums and dads. There will be clinics organised across the county in the coming weeks where families will be able to get appointments together to come along for their COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Everything people need to know about the vaccination programme in Gloucestershire is available on the vaccination page, including locations of vaccination sites, information leaflets and FAQs.