Vaccine clinics for teens amid fears of low jab rates

Covid vaccination centres are set to open up across the region to 12 to 15-year-olds for half-term amid concerns over low jab rates.

The NHS said the national booking service would be opening up for the age group as part of plans to offer "additional capacity for kids" at existing vaccination centres.

It is understood that no sites have been officially approved in the Black Country and West Birmingham, although an announcement is expected by the end of the week.

Youngsters are currently only able to get vaccinated in schools, and across the Black Country less than one in 10 have had the jab according to estimates based on Government data.

Health chiefs are also said to be concerned over attempts to disrupt the programme, with anti-vaxxers having turned up to protest outside schools in Walsall and Sandwell in recent days.

It comes as Covid cases continue to rise across the region.

Addressing MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard, said: "To make the most of half-term, we will be opening the national booking service for young people – 12 to 15-year-olds – to have their Covid vaccinations at existing vaccination centres."

She added that this would be part of an effort to "offer additional capacity for kids" over the next "two weeks in particular".

Across the region thousands of eligible children have not yet been offered the jab.

Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for the Black Country and West Birmingham CCG, said the jab was being "successfully delivered" at a number of schools across the region.

She added: "Like the flu and HPV vaccines, Covid-19 jabs are being delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services (SAIS) who are working closely with schools to identify those children who are eligible and to share consent letters with parents and guardians.

"A single dose of Pfizer vaccine for children in this age group will provide them with protection from the virus and may also help to reduce transmission of Covid-19, preventing further disruption to the classroom.

"I urge all families and young people to consider the offer of the vaccine and to take it up as soon as the rollout reaches their school."

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