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COVID-19 vaccine: Hywel Dda UHB asks parents and carers of at risk 5–11-year-olds to come forward

14 January 2022

Hywel Dda University Health Board’s COVID-19 vaccination team is preparing to invite at-risk children aged 5-11 for their first COVID-19 vaccination and is asking people with parental responsibility for those newly eligible to contact the health board so an appointment can be arranged. 

On 22 December 2021, the JCVI recommended (opens in new tab) that children aged 5 to 11 who are in an “at-risk” group* or are the household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed should be offered two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (opens in new tab), eight weeks apart. The minimum interval between any vaccine dose and COVID-19 infection should be four weeks. 

Further information about the JCVI’s definition of an at-risk 5–11-year-old is available here (opens in new tab).

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Following the JCVI’s recommendation just before Christmas, we have been working to identify eligible children living in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire through GP records.  
 
“However, we understand that many families with vulnerable 5–11-year-olds or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed are keen to protect them as soon as possible against the virus so those with parental responsibility can also contact us directly to provide their details. 

“You can do so by completing an online form, available here (opens in new tab), or calling 0300 303 8322. We will begin to invite this group as soon as the vaccine is made available to us. Our current planning aims to start appointments week beginning 24 January.  

“At the current time, the JCVI considers the balance of potential benefits and harms is in favour of vaccination for this group. I strongly advise parents and guardians to look at trusted sources and speak with their child, if possible, when making their decision. There is a lot of information out there about the COVID-19 vaccine, so please be careful to use only accurate and trusted information to help you answer any questions you may have.” 

A guide for children aged 5-11 years who are at greater risk from COVID-19 infection is available to read here (opens in new tab). Further information is available from gov.wales/vaccine-coronavirus (opens in new tab) and the British Society for Immunology (opens in new tab) who have produced a free guide for the public (opens in new tab) about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Bethan added: “This group, due to their age and clinical-risk, will be vaccinated by appointment only and our vaccination teams are working to ensure appointments are offered in a child-friendly and safe environment using a mixture of our current mass vaccination centres and community-based setting where more appropriate.” 

The JCVI has not advised whether children aged 5 to 11, who are not in an “at-risk” category should receive vaccination until more information and evidence is available. 

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Hywel Dda UHB, please visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/covid19-vaccination (opens in new tab) 

Notes to editor: 

*JVCI definition of an at risk 5–11-year-old  

Chronic respiratory disease 
Including those with poorly controlled asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission, cystic fibrosis, ciliary dyskinesias and bronchopulmonary dysplasia 
 
Chronic heart conditions 
Haemodynamically significant congenital and acquired heart disease, or less severe heart disease with other co-morbidity. This includes:  

  • single ventricle patients or those palliated with a Fontan (Total Cavopulmonary Connection) circulation 
  • those with chronic cyanosis (oxygen saturations <85% persistently) 
  • patients with cardiomyopathy requiring medication 
  • patients with congenital heart disease on medication to improve heart function 
  • patients with pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) requiring medication 

Chronic conditions of the kidney, liver or digestive system 
Including those associated with congenital malformations of the organs,  
metabolic disorders and neoplasms, and conditions such as severe gastro oesophageal reflux that may predispose to respiratory infection 
 
Chronic neurological disease 
This includes those with  

  • neuro-disability and/or neuromuscular disease including cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy and muscular dystrophy  
  • hereditary and degenerative disease of the nervous system or muscles, other conditions associated with hypoventilation  
  • severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), Down’s syndrome, those on the learning disability register 
  • neoplasm of the brain 

Endocrine disorders 
Including diabetes mellitus, Addison’s and hypopituitary syndrome 
 
Immunosuppression 
Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including: 

  • those undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, solid organ transplant recipients, bone marrow or stem cell transplant recipients 
  • genetic disorders affecting the immune system (e.g. deficiencies of IRAK-4 or NEMO, complement disorder, SCID) 
  • those with haematological malignancy, including leukaemia and lymphoma 
  • those receiving immunosuppressive or immunomodulating biological therapy 
  • those treated with or likely to be treated with high or moderate dose corticosteroids 
  • those receiving any dose of non-biological oral immune modulating drugs e.g. methotrexate, azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine or mycophenolate 
  • those with auto-immune diseases who may require long term immunosuppressive treatments 

Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen 
Including hereditary spherocytosis, homozygous sickle cell disease and thalassemia major 
 
Serious genetic abnormalities that affect a number of systems 
Including mitochondrial disease and chromosomal abnormalities 
 
Pregnancy 
All stages (first, second and third trimesters)