Wales has become the first country in the UK to announce it will be offering the Covid-19 vaccine to all five to 11-year-olds.

It comes just weeks after vaccinations for children aged five to 11 who are most at risk of Covid-19 began in parts of England.

Wales’ health minister Eluned Morgan said she had read the “yet to be published” report by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and would be further rolling out the jab.

While the minister has not set out a timetable for when youngsters will be able to get the jab, it is not expected to be treated as "as a matter of urgency" - as seen over the Christmas period.

But what do parents need to know about the vaccination programme?

South Wales Argus: Photo via PA shows a child receiving a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.Photo via PA shows a child receiving a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Where will Welsh children receive their Covid vaccines?

Baroness Morgan said children aged five to 11 in Wales would receive the vaccine in health centres.

What vaccine do children get and is it a smaller dose?

All eligible children will be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer vaccine eight weeks apart – a third of the amount used for adult vaccinations.

Pfizer tested the smaller dose with primary school-age children. Even with less micrograms in a dose, children who are five to 11 years old developed antibody levels as strong as teenagers and young adults getting the regular-strength vaccines, Pfizer said in September.

Why do children need the vaccine? 

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme, said: “We know vaccines give significant protection against severe illness from Covid – including the Omicron variant – so it is important that our youngest and most at-risk get protected.

“The NHS is now vaccinating the most at risk five to 11-year-olds, ensuring they get their vital dose of protection.

“Thousands of young people are still getting protected every day with millions vaccinated so far, and we are asking parents not to delay coming forward – as soon as the NHS contacts you, please come forward so the NHS can protect their youngest against the virus.”

Although children mostly only get mild symptoms, some public health experts believe immunising them should be a priority to reduce the virus’ spread, which could theoretically lead to the emergence of a dangerous new variant.

Researchers disagree on how much children have influenced the course of the pandemic. Early research suggested they did not contribute much to viral spread, but some experts say children played a significant role this year spreading variants such as Alpha and Delta.

South Wales Argus: Photo via PA explains how the Pfizer vaccine works.Photo via PA explains how the Pfizer vaccine works.

Have children shown any side effects from the Covid vaccine?

Studies on Pfizer’s vaccine in children have not been big enough to detect any rare side effects from the second dose, like the chest and heart inflammation seen in mostly male older teenagers and young adults.

Will children in Wales need Covid booster jabs?

The Welsh health minister recently told the Senedd: "We’re waiting to hear from the JCVI to see whether they’ll need a booster on top of the booster for older age groups in the spring."

She added: “Of course, it’s likely to have been a very difficult decision for the JCVI, because generally, children have a milder illness and fewer hospitalisations. But, of course, they have to balance that against the prospect of missing school."