Image copyright AFP Image caption A “serious” infectious disease crisis sparked a vaccination revamp
The UK’s National Public Health Service has reassured people they do not need to visit the doctor due to fears about the potential spread of an infectious disease.
But it said no vaccination will be suspended and that there was a risk of further possible outbreaks.
Several countries have already raised the vaccination age limit.
A public health agency in Egypt has also issued a health alert over the omicron variant.
The unvaccinated risk is “extremely high” in the south of the country in Oman’s western desert.
Medical experts say it is “highly infectious” and generally fatal in younger children.
Photo: GOV.UK Image caption Some events in Malawi and Democratic Republic of Congo were cancelled in recent days
The UK is not currently following the example of countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia which have raised the vaccine age limit for children.
“These are precautionary measures taken by governments responding to large-scale outbreaks of infectious diseases,” said Dr Dilys Morgan, of the UK’s National Public Health Service.
The agency issued a report on the programme, stating that so far the programme had reduced infection rates by 75% in children of school age.
The worst outbreak of the omicron variant in Egypt has already claimed the lives of at least 15 people.
Britain has supplied vaccine to Egypt. Last year, it supplied 5.3m doses to Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, Zambia and Ethiopia.
Countries with the highest risk for the omicron variant
Country Current vaccination age limit Egypt 12 months 0 Sudan 4 months 1 Uganda 5 months 1 Senegal 10 months 1 Zambia 12 months 1 Ethiopia 15 months 1 Nigeria 20 months 1 Portugal 18 months 1 Spain 30 months 1 Malaysia 30 months 0
Egypt said it is planning a vaccination campaign starting on 12 July with a shortfall of 600,000 doses required for the campaign.
Three children have been diagnosed with the infection in two countries outside Egypt, according to Egypt’s Health Ministry.
Health authorities have said there are no reports of deaths in those three countries.
In the UK, children who are up to four-years-old will get a second dose of the booster at 14 months, 15 months and 18 months, if they had one already.
Medical professionals stress that the programme is safe for those without a proper vaccination record.
Ms Morgan said it would cost between £35 to £40 a shot, not including travel insurance.
The UK-registered vaccine was developed by NHS-funded research firm Natco. The British company is working with manufacturers to modify the vaccine to make it easier to use and to manufacture, it says.
UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “The public will be reassured that there are steps in place to ensure vaccination for the children in these countries continues.”