Kids as young as five able to get jabbed in Dudley as Easter drop-in sessions start

"I'm happy to be here getting my vaccination as I know it's the right thing to do to protect my family and friends."

The centre had clear and colourful signs to let people know where to go
The centre had clear and colourful signs to let people know where to go

It was a big day on Monday for those youngsters waiting to get their dose of the Covid-19 vaccination at Saltwells Education Development Centre in Netherton.

They were among nearly five million children aged between five and 11 who are now eligible for two doses of the Covid vaccine, following JCVI guidance on April 4, which recommended children can benefit from non-urgent offer of the vaccine.

Saltwells is one of many sites across the region offering vaccinations, with the centre providing a drop-in service and a friendly environment, aimed at putting those attending at ease.

The drawing wall is one of many ways the centre has been helping children to relax before their vaccinations

On entry, there was a wall in the waiting area with felt tips and colouring pens for people to draw on, as well as special stickers for each child to have once they had received their jab, with the back wall covered in a mural of all the drawings done since the centre opened in December last year.

The centre was busy at the start of the Easter holidays, with a steady flow of both youngsters aged between five and 11 getting their first jab and older children coming in to get their second jabs.

Jacob Robins from Pensnett, 11, was sitting in the waiting area with his 15-year-old sister Abigail after having his first vaccination jab and he said he had overcome a fear of needles to get his jab.

Jacob Robins said he had overcome a fear of needles to get his first jab. He was sat with his sister Abigail

He said: "I don't like needles, so I was a bit scared, but it was worth doing this to stop me from getting ill and ending up in hospital.

"I would say to those who aren't getting vaccinated to just do it as you'll stop people who you love from going to hospital by protecting them."

Charlotte Sheppard is taken through the vaccination process, with her mother Emma looking on
Charlotte Sheppard receives her vaccination jab from nurse Pauline Roberts

Charlotte Sheppard was one of many youngsters drawing on the wall in the waiting area as she waited to get her jab and her mother Emma said the nine-year-old from Quarry Bank had made her own mind up about getting vaccinated.

She said: "She had seen her sisters getting the jabs a few months ago and she said she couldn't wait to get it herself, so it was entirely her own decision to come here.

"It's brilliant to see children that age being able to get vaccinated as they have had the courage to see what everyone has gone through and get jabbed, so I know it was an easy decision for Charlotte and she's looking forward to it."

The area where vaccinations took place had been made as comfortable as possible for those youngsters apprehensive about getting their jabs, with colour present throughout and staff working to keep the children calm during the process.

Children getting their jabs were able to say they had been brave with a sticker

Michelle Smith from Stourbridge had been through the centre before with her 12-year-old daughter Sienna and said as they waited for her second jabs that the routine was very well planned out.

Michelle and Sienna Smith wait for Sienna to get her second jab

She said: "There's not much of a delay in getting it done here and it's a friendly environment, so I'm happy to be able to bring Sienna here.

"I just think that if you're able to get the jab, then you should get it, because it's better to have a small side effect from the vaccination, rather than the full effects of the virus."

Sienna said she liked the centre, saying the pictures on the wall were really good and she felt relaxed being there.

She said: "I feel fine about being here and getting my second jab as it's good to be able to protect more people from Covid, including my mum and dad.

"People should go out and get vaccinated as they're protecting their families and friends by doing so."

The centre has little touches to make it feel homely, such as masks

More than 150 children aged between five and 11 had passed through the centre on Monday, with many more arriving before the end of the day.

Lisa Firth was at the centre with her sons Lewis and Tyler, with nine-year-old Tyler getting his first jab and 14-year-old Lewis getting his second, and said the centre was set up well.

She said: "They've set it up well and make it really easy to find and to get through, so I'm really happy to be here with my sons to see them get vaccinated, especially Tyler, who was a brave boy.

"I think it's brilliant that everyone can get vaccinated as it helps all of us to protect ourselves and others from Covid."

Lewis Firth gets his second vaccination jab

Lewis said: "I think it's good here as it's very friendly and welcoming, with a good atmosphere.

"It's really important to get jabbed and do it twice as it's better to have two than one."

Lisa Firth with children Tyler and Lewis. Tyler was getting his first jab and Lewis his second

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