Government, Press Release
The UK government has confirmed that a supply of paediatric doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is to be provided to Ascension. This follows a recommendation from the UK Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) in February that vaccination be made available to all those aged 5-11 years old. Whilst children without underlying health conditions are at low risk of developing a serious COVID-19 illness, vaccination provides strong protection nonetheless.
The consignment will provide enough doses to cover the entirety of this age group in Ascension. AIG is now working with partners in the UK government to facilitate the delivery of these on an RAF operational support flights. As such, it is expected that the vaccines will arrive at the island as early as this week, with vaccination being offered shortly after. Parents of those offered the vaccine will be provided with further information and will need to complete a permission form for their child ahead of the vaccination being given.
It is currently recommended that children receive two doses of the vaccine spaced between eight and 12 weeks apart. Further discussions are now taking place regarding a second delivery of vaccines for this age group, which will determine the interval to be applied between doses.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has passed a rigorous testing and development process. Following approval by regulators in other jurisdictions, since November 2021 a specific paediatric dose of the vaccine has been given to those aged 5-11 years old in many countries around the world.
Thanks to vaccines, the international COVID-19 situation has begun to stabilise. For those that are vaccinated, COVID-19 is now fortunately mostly a mild illness, especially since the rise of the Omicron variant.
Ascension is fortunate that the uptake of vaccination in the community has been considerable. Children aged 5-11 years old represent the final significant cohort of unvaccinated persons within the community. In vaccinating this group, Ascension will have some of the highest rates of vaccination amongst any community in the world.
Given the success of vaccines in preventing serious illness, the availability of effective treatments for COVID-19 and with vaccination now being offered to almost everyone within the community, Ascension has been provided an opportunity to seriously reassess the COVID-19 measures and protocols currently in place.
Whilst measures currently in place focus on preventing any sort of community transmission from occurring, with vaccination and the right kind of treatments available, evidence from the rest of the world has demonstrated that COVID-19 is no longer the grave threat to life that it once was. As such, authorities are now working on a strategy to switch focus to managing COVID-19 effectively as a community illness, rather than keeping out of the territory entirely.
Further information on this will be made available in due course, including the publication of a comprehensive strategy detailing how transition to this new approach will be safely and effectively managed.
If members of the public would like any information in the meantime, or would like to discuss vaccination with a member of hospital staff, they can contact Georgetown Hospital by telephone on 66252 by email through firstname.lastname@example.org.