Coronavirus in UK: Starting next week, vaccination centres in England will accept bookings for children

WION Web Team
London, United KingdomUpdated: Oct 21, 2021, 12:12 AM IST
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Children will soon be able to get vaccinated at existing vaccine centres, including general practices, pharmacies, and other local sites

 With coronavirus and flu putting pressure on the NHS, as the UK prepares for what PM Boris Johnson, described as a "difficult winter", Downing Street has confirmed that starting next week, Covid vaccination appointments for children will be made available.  

Following the latest death toll, which has risen to 223, a record high since early March, echoing the NHS England chief executive, Amanda Pritchard's concern, the prime minister’s spokesperson said that in order to drive up vaccination rates, people need to be reminded the virus is still there.

It is important that we get that message out, the spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Defending the vaccination programme for 12- to 15-year-olds, which has been criticized for being too slow, he said it would be extended beyond the schools. Parents and guardians of eligible children will receive a text or letter inviting them to make an appointment through the national booking service or call 119.

Johnson's spokesperson explained that children will soon be able to get vaccinated at existing vaccine centres, including general practices, pharmacies, and other local sites.

As for offering vaccinations in schools, he called this approach a "tested and proven" approach. He maintained, however, that the government wants to do everything possible to provide these vaccinations as effectively and safely as possible.

The fortnightly Department for Education attendance statistics shows that the number of English pupils missing school due to Covid has risen again. There were 209,000 Covid-related absences on 14 October, up from 204,000 when the data was last released; 111,000 of these were confirmed cases, an increase of 9,000.

Watch | Covid cases witness stubborn high in UK; daily cases above 40,000 for a week now

There was a marginal increase in attendance over the past fortnight, from 89.5% on 30 September to 90%, but Covid-related absence in state schools also increased from 2.5% to 2.6%.

According to James Bowen, director of policy for the school leaders’ union NAHT, covid-related absence in schools has hit record levels, and the government cannot simply ignore the escalating numbers of cases among school-age children.