All children in Suffolk aged 5-11 can book a Covid-19 jab from Monday without the need to be invited by the NHS, it has been announced.

The roll-out of coronavirus vaccinations for children in that age group begins on Monday, April 4, and families can book an appointment online or by calling 119, or they can go to one of the no-appointment walk-in clinics across Suffolk and north east Essex.

Online and telephone bookings opened today and jabs will be available from Monday.

The vaccinations are not being offered in schools, so children will need to be taken to a vaccination centre, a walk-in clinic or a participating pharmacy, NHS bosses in the region said.

Youngsters will be offered a children’s dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Those at greater risk of serious illness if they catch Covid-19 will need two doses of vaccine, eight weeks apart.

All other children will be offered two doses of vaccine 12 weeks apart.

Up until now, Covid-19 vaccinations for those aged between 5-11 have been limited to children who are clinically vulnerable or who have suppressed immune systems as a result of an underlying health condition.

The extension of eligibility follows the recommendation of the JCVI that vaccines for all 5–11-year olds are important in order to encourage immunity and increase protection against any future waves of coronavirus.

Elizabeth Moloney, who is leading the roll-out of the vaccination programme across the integrated care system's patch, said: “The Covid-19 vaccination will help protect your child against the virus, and I urge parents to consider how taking up this offer will give long-lasting defence against serious complications of the virus, including long Covid.

“By extending the roll-out to all 5–11-year olds we are in line with many other countries such as France, Germany and the USA which have been offering vaccination to this age group for several months.

“We know the vaccine is safe and effective, but I urge anyone with concerns or questions to contact our local helpline on 0344 257 3961.

"You won’t be judged as we know this is a big decision. By speaking with a healthcare professional, we’ll be able to answer your questions with trusted facts and accurate information. We urge you not to seek those answers from unverified internet sources, as they are very often dangerously inaccurate.

“We also have our own trusted website which has lots of useful information, videos and links so you can make a balanced decision.

“Our children are the most precious things in our lives, so please consider carefully the very really benefits of vaccination.”