New data shows how many parents in Milton Keynes have had their young children vaccinated against Covid

Figures from Public Health England have shown a low uptake on Covid jabs for children aged between five and 11.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 4:56 pm

The total population of this age group in MK is 29,349.

But government data shows only 1,485 of the youngsters – equating to 5.1% – were taken to receive a vaccine in the first three weeks of the scheme.

Covid vaccinations for five to 11-year-olds began on April 4, with parents everywhere encouraged by the NHS to take up the offer.

Uptake has been slow for child Covid vaccines

Uptake varies widely across UK, with Scotland vaccinating seven times more primary-age children against Covid-19 than Northern Ireland - despite having started its programme later.

It is just one example of how parents across the UK seem to be showing hugely varying attitudes towards immunising their children, say experts.

Public health messaging has been far more muted than with the adult vaccination programme. The virus usually has a mild effect in children and NHS England said vaccination is a “personal choice” for families to make

Low take-up rates may be linked to vaccine hesitancy. Earlier this year the Office for National Statistics found that parents living with children under five were more likely to be vaccine hesitant than non-parents or parents not living with a dependent child.

Vaccine hesitancy was also found to be more common in more deprived areas and among people with a Black or minority ethnic background.

Many children have also already had Covid-19 - around 85% were thought to have had the virus by the end of January, according to estimates by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Rachel Spiers, Immunisation and Vaccination Programme Manager at the Public Health Agency, believes there are several possible reasons for the lower vaccination rate in children.

She said: “For example, parents of children who have already had Covid-19 may feel that their children don’t need the vaccine. However, vaccination is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill-health.

“Even if your child has already had Covid-19, it is still important to get them vaccinated, as being fully-vaccinated can offer them the best protection from the virus and severe disease, as we have seen that it can be possible to develop Covid-19 more than once.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “Getting vaccinated is a personal choice between families and their children, and we have now sent invites to everyone eligible, including to the parents of one million children aged five and six last week – with people able to book an appointment via the National Booking System.”

They added: “The fastest and largest vaccine drive in NHS history has vaccinated more than 260,000 5- to 11-year-olds whose parents have decided to take up this offer, since it went live less than four weeks ago, following the JCVI’s recommendation of a non-urgent offer.

“Getting vaccinated is a personal choice between families and their children, and we have now sent invites to everyone eligible, including to the parents of one million children aged 5 and 6 last week – with people able to book an appointment via the National Booking System.”