Britain's vaccine officials advise 5- to 11-year-olds to get COVID shots

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A man and children wearing protective face masks walk near a Chessington World of Adventures car park, which has been turned into a testing facility as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Chessington, Britain, March 28, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files

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LONDON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Britain's vaccine officials on Wednesday advised that all children aged 5-11 should be offered COVID-19 shots, paving the way for a wider rollout of vaccines in children in a decision that has been taken more slowly than in some other countries.

British health minister Sajid Javid said he would accept the advice for England.

Britain has offered COVID-19 shots to vulnerable children, but has been slower than the likes of the United States and Israel in offering the vaccine to all 5- to 11-year-olds.

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"The main purpose of offering vaccination to 5-11 year olds is to increase their protection against severe illness in advance of a potential future wave of COVID-19," Wei Shen Lim, Chair of the COVID-19 immunisation on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said.

The JCVI said that there was a non-urgent offer of the Pfizer (PFE.N) BioNTech paediatric COVID vaccine for the age group, with at least 12 weeks between doses.

All four nations of the United Kingdom have followed JCVI guidance on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Scotland and Wales had already said it would accept JCVI advice in favour of vaccination for children aged 5-11.

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Reporting by Alistair Smout. Editing by Andrew MacAskill

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