Government clarifies which children can get Covid vaccine in updated Green Book

3 mins read

Tuesday 3 August 2021

The government has updated its Green Book guidance with more detailed information about which children aged 12-15 are eligible for a Covid vaccine.

It had previously agreed to follow advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation to offer jabs to children with severe neurodisabilities, Down syndrome, immunosuppression, and severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).

The Green Book has now clarified what constitutes each of these categories:

  • Severe neuro-disability and/or neuromuscular conditions that compromise respiratory function. This includes conditions (such as cerebral palsy, autism and muscular dystrophy) that may affect swallowing and protection of the upper airways, leading to aspiration, and reduce the ability to cough and resulting overall in increased susceptibility to respiratory infections
  • Children with a learning disability, including individuals with Down syndrome, those who are on the GP Learning Disability Register, and those with PMLD or severe learning disabilities
  • Children who are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy; solid organ transplant recipients; bone marrow or stem cell transplant recipients; kids with HIV infections at all stages; those with genetic disorders affecting the immune system; children receiving immunosuppressive biological therapy or those treated with systemic steroids for more than a month; and anyone with a history of haematological malignance, including leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, or auto-immune diseases that may require long-term immunosuppressive treatments.

Children aged 12 and above who live with immunosuppressed individuals of any age will also qualify for a vaccine.

Those who are on the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) list are “not generally recommended for vaccination” unless they have a severe neurodisability. If you are concerned about your CEV child’s safety, please book a chat with our Listening Ear team or call our free helpline on 0808 808 3555.

Though Green Book guidance mentions autistic children, NHS England’s definition of ‘severe neurodisability’ describes conditions associated with impairment involving the nervous system. These children usually have a range of impairments, but many have complex and continuing needs and as a result are frequent users of all levels of the health service.

We are therefore seeking clarification from NHS England about exactly which autistic children and young people will qualify under the ‘severe neurodisability’ umbrella. Keep an eye on our FAQs page about vaccines for children for any updates on this.

In a recent letter to all GPs, NHS England said that eligible children will be offered a first dose of the vaccine from 23 August at the latest to ensure they receive some protection before returning to school in September.

Find out more in our FAQs about vaccines for children aged 12-15.