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Covid 19 (Coronavirus) - Information for Shine Members: January 2022

31st January 2022


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COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

31st January 2022

Parents' update: Coronavirus vaccination in children

Two doses of the coronavirus vaccine are now being offered to all children aged 12 years and over. Some children aged 5-11 will also be offered the vaccine. The risk from coronavirus in children is generally very low so the vaccine will only be offered to those 5-11 year olds most at risk from severe complications of COVID-19, or who live with someone who is.

These are the eligibility criteria for the vaccine:

  • children who live with someone who has a weakened immune system (e.g. HIV, transplant recipients, those undergoing immunosuppressive treatments for cancer, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • children with conditions that may mean they're at high risk from COVID-19:
    • a severe problem with the brain or nerves, such as cerebral palsy (note this does not automatically include spina bifida or hydrocephalus. There are over 600 different neurological conditions/neurodisabilities and not all of them affect coronavirus vulnerability)
    • Down's syndrome
    • severe or multiple learning disabilities (or children on the learning disability register)
    • conditions that increase the risk of getting infections (e.g. genetic conditions, some types of cancer)

Spina bifida and hydrocephalus are not, in their own right, risk factors for COVID-19 i.e. there’s no evidence to suggest that spina bifida or hydrocephalus alone automatically increase the risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus. The risk is moderately raised by having other conditions that can sometimes be associated with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and if a child has enough of these risk factors they may need to be vaccinated. Related conditions that increase vulnerability, and therefore may influence inclusion in the vaccination programme, include: higher spina bifida lesions that affect breathing, or spinal curvature that reduces lung expansion, epilepsy, severe learning disability.

The need for vaccination in 5-11s is decided on a case-by-case basis depending on all existing conditions, and overall health. We recommend that all children who are offered the vaccine accept, but please do not worry if your child is not invited for a vaccine as not all children with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus are clinically vulnerable in terms of coronavirus. 

If your child is eligible you may receive a letter or a phone call inviting you to make an appointment for them to be vaccinated. Your child’s GP or specialist doctors should be able to advise you about COVID-19 vaccinations for your child. Unfortunately, Shine are not able to advise on whether your child should be offered or given the vaccine as their whole medical history needs to be taken into account and eligibility is decided by the healthcare professionals involved in a child’s care.

For more information about the vaccines, including eligibility, and side-effects see the government website.

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