Children aged five to 11 at higher risk of Covid-19 will now be offered two doses of Pfizer BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine, the government has announced.

The decision follows the latest advice from the UK’s Joint Commission on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in offering two doses of the vaccine to young people aged five to 11 in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed.

The JCVI has carried out an extensive assessment of the risks and benefits of vaccinations for this age group including rea-world data, concluding that protection provided by the vaccine supports offering those in clinical group’s two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The new advice also includes extending the booster vaccine to at-risk 12- to 15-year-olds and all 16- to 17-year-olds no sooner than three months after their second dose.

The planning for this extension is currently underway in the Isle of Man whilst all official documentation is received from the UK Government and more information on when the rollout will begin will be provided in the New Year.

Lawrie Hooper MHK, Minister for Health and Social Care said: ’Whilst Covid is typically very mild in most young children, there is a higher risk of severe illness and hospitalisation for those with underlying health conditions and two doses will provide vital protection against this.

’I understand that some parents may have concerns but the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MRHA) has reviewed clinical trials and real-world data and approved the use of this lower dosage specifically for this age group, stating that the vaccine is safe and effective. They have also reported that the overwhelming majority have only had mild side-effects.’

Parents or guardians of children aged 12 or under will need to provide consent for their child to receive a vaccine. These individuals will be offered a second dose at least eight weeks after the first dose.

The Minister added: ’Additionally, by offering a booster to all 16- to 17-year-olds and vulnerable 12- to 15-year-olds, we are providing that added increased protection against the Omicron variant.

’If you are in one of the older age groups and are yet to come forward to have a first dose, I encourage everyone to do so, and when the time comes take up the offer for a booster. The vaccine offers the best defence against this virus and we all need to do our part to protect each other and our community.’

Anyone aged 12 and over is able to attend one of the walk-in clinics being held at Chester St Hub next week from Monday, December 27, to Wednesday, December 29, to receive either a first or second dose. These take place between 8.45am and 5.15pm on Monday and Tuesday and 10am to 2.15pm on Wednesday.