THOUSANDS of Hampshire children aged between five and 11 have already received their first Covid-19 jab as the battle against the virus continues.
Experts say youngsters should be vaccinated to help protect against any future waves of coronavirus and the accompanying risk of serious illness.
More than 14,000 children in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Dr Matt Nisbet, clinical lead for the area's Covid vaccination programme, said: "I would like to reassure children and parents that their safety is our top priority and no new vaccine for children would have been approved if it hadn’t been through a detailed safety review.
“Getting vaccinated helps protect children and their families against this virus as well as reducing the impact it can have on our children’s education.
"I would strongly urge everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
In a message to parents Angela Anderson, deputy chief nurse and clinical director for the vaccination service at Solent NHS Trust, said: "Not only can the vaccine help protect your child against serious Covid infection, it can also reduce the risk of passing on the infection to others.
"Our fantastic teams have created a child and family-friendly atmosphere to ensure that children are as comfortable as possible when getting their jabs.
"We’re proud of the work we are doing and have had great feedback from parents and children.”
An NHS spokesperson added: "Anyone eligible who has not yet taken up the offer of a first, second or booster dose is strongly encouraged to do so without delay to ensure they are as protected as possible from the virus.
"The offer of a Covid jab is not time-limited so anyone invited can have the vaccine – even if they have previously declined and changed their mind."
Any parents or guardians with questions about getting a child vaccinated can contact the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Covid-19 helpline on 0300 561 0018.