When can young children get the Covid vaccine?

Young child with face mask on walking with books after getting Covid vaccine
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Some 12 to 15 year olds are now eligible for the Covid vaccine, so many are wondering when younger children will have their turn. 

Whether you think all children should have the Covid vaccine or not, it's something that children may have soon as concerns are rising over the Delta variant (opens in new tab) and there are discussions over a potential circuit breaker lockdown (opens in new tab) to stem the rise in cases.

Currently, the NHS just offering eligible children aged 12 to 15 (opens in new tab) both doses of the Covid vaccine. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said this will happen "as soon as possible" to protect more vulnerable young people.

When can young children get the Covid vaccine?

At the moment, the government have not said when children younger than 12 years old can get the Covid vaccine.

This week, The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised (opens in new tab) the government that children aged between 12 and 15 years old "at an increased risk of serious coronavirus (COVID-19) disease are offered a vaccine."

Currently, this only includes children who have severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities. Children aged between 12 and 17 who live with "an immunosuppressed person" can also have the vaccine, if they wish.

Studies are still ongoing to assess whether children younger than 12 should have the coronavirus vaccine. While the NHS will tell those eligible for a third vaccine how to book a booster jab (opens in new tab) before the end of the year.

Two young children at the doctors

Credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty Images/Maskot)

From September 2021, those eligible for a third Covid-19 vaccine will be told how to book a booster jab (opens in new tab) online.

Covid vaccines for children aged 2 to 11 years old

Pfizer is conducting trials for children ages 6 months to 11 years old at the moment. This will determine whether younger age groups can have the vaccine in the future as currently, this vaccine is only approved for those aged 12 and over.

The pharmaceutical company have said that they should be ready to submit data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US within the next few months.

“We are planning for emergency use authorization submission for the older age group (ages 5-11) in September or October of this year, and the younger group to follow soon thereafter,” Alejandra Gurtman, Pfizer’s vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, said during a virtual symposium (opens in new tab) recently.

This means that children aged 2 to 11 years old could have the coronavirus vaccine in the States soon. However, there is no word on whether children between these ages would get the vaccine in the UK.

At the moment, Pfizer is going ahead with clinical trials (opens in new tab) for healthy children aged 6 months to 11 years old. The children are studied in three separate age groups. Beginning with 6 months to 2 year olds, 2 to 5 years, and then 5 to 12 years olds. Similarly, Moderna is doing clinical trials (opens in new tab) for those aged between 6 months to 11 years old. While Johnson & Johnson (opens in new tab) and Novavax (opens in new tab), two more vaccines that have not yet been approved for use in the UK, are continuing their trials for young people aged 12 to 17 years old. 

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Earlier this year, Oxford University began their vaccine study (opens in new tab) into children aged 6 to 17 years old. The study involved 300 volunteers, with 240 children receiving the actual vaccine and the remainder receiving a control meningitis jab.

Andrew Pollard, Oxford's professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and the chief investigator on the trial, said that most children don't become seriously unwell with coronavirus. However,"it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people". In the future, "some children may benefit from vaccination."

He said, “These new trials will extend our understanding of control of SARS-CoV2 to younger age groups.” 

However, the trial stopped in April. Researchers discovered a possible link between the Oxford vaccine and blood clots in adults. It has not resumed since then. 

Covid vaccines for children aged 6 months to 2 years old

Similarly, both Pfizer and Moderna are conducting clinical trials on the efficacy of the vaccines on children aged 6 months to 2 years. This will decide whether children get the coronavirus vaccine in the future.

There were some concerns at the beginning of the rollout over whether the Covid-19 vaccine should be given during pregnancy (opens in new tab). Following multiple trials, those who are pregnant can now have the vaccine if they wish. 

However, there are no plans to introduce the vaccine to babies as part of their early-life vaccinations.