According to data published on 4 May - one month after NHS England began rolling out jabs to 5m children aged 5-11 - 313,303 people in this age group have received a first dose of vaccine.
NHS England confirmed it had invited all 5m children to come forward, but said that vaccination was ‘a personal choice between families and their children’.
The current level of uptake among 5- to 11-year-olds means that around 6% have had their first COVID-19 jab in the four weeks since rollout began.
The data suggest that rollout in 5-11s has been slower than among children aged 12-15. Just under 60% of children in the older age group have now received a first dose of vaccine - and three months after rollout began last September uptake had reached 49%.
Rollout of jabs to children aged 5-11 began last month, after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended in February that all children in this group would benefit from COVID-19 vaccination. The committee recommended a ‘non-urgent’ rollout of vaccine to this age group - in contrast with the urgent approach for other age groups earlier in the pandemic.
RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘Throughout the pandemic, GPs and our teams, working with colleagues across the health service, have pulled out all the stops to ensure as many people as possible are protected from COVID-19 through vaccination.
‘Vaccination is the most effective thing patients can do to protect themselves from the virus, and the JCVI have recommended that 5- to 11-year-olds get vaccinated. Our view is that parents should make an informed and educated decision about whether to vaccinate their children, but the evidence shows that this is a safe and effective health intervention, and we would encourage take-up.
‘It remains key that anyone who has not been vaccinated, or is not fully-vaccinated, or is now eligible for a booster but haven’t yet had it come forward and book an appointment to get vaccinated.’
An NHS England spokesperson, said: ‘The fastest and largest vaccine drive in NHS history has vaccinated more than 300,000 5- to 11-year-olds whose parents have decided to take up this offer, since it went live less than four weeks ago, following the JCVI’s recommendation of a non-urgent offer.
‘Getting vaccinated is a personal choice between families and their children and we have now sent invites to everyone eligible, including to the parents of one million children aged 5 and 6 last week – with people able to book an appointment via the National Booking System.’