Vaccinations for 16-17 year olds
The NHS is now offering two doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all young people aged 16 to 17 years to help give them longer lasting protection.
Those young people who are at greater risk of serious illness if they catch COVID-19 will already have been offered 2 doses of vaccine, given 8 weeks apart.
People do not have to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to be vaccinated, although it will make the process easier so they should bring this if they can.
They can book an appointment via the National Booking Service or find a convenient walk-in site near to where they live at www.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab. The finder shows which doses are offered at each location and to which age groups.
Vaccinations for 12-15 year olds
Why children are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 is usually mild in most children, but it can make some children unwell.
One dose of the COVID-19 vaccine gives good protection against your child getting seriously ill. But two doses gives stronger and longer-lasting protection.
Vaccinating children can also help stop the spread of COVID-19 to other people, including within schools.
When children will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine
Children can get a 1st dose of the vaccine from the day they turn 12.
Most children can get a 2nd dose from 12 weeks after they had their 1st dose.
If your child has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not at high risk from COVID-19, they need to wait 12 weeks before they can have a COVID-19 vaccine. This starts from the date of their positive PCR test.
Those that have a specific immunosuppressive condition as set out in JCVI guidance should have three doses in their primary schedule. These will be arranged by their consultant or GP.
How children can get the COVID-19 vaccine
Most children aged 12 to 15 can:
- get the vaccine at school
- book their vaccination appointments online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
- find a walk-in site at www.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
Getting the vaccine at school
Most children will be offered a 1st and 2nd dose of the vaccine at school during school hours.
2nd doses will be offered in schools from 10 January 2022. Children who have not yet had a vaccine can get their 1st dose during these vaccination sessions.
School immunisation teams will visit your child’s school to give the vaccine.
As a parent or guardian you will get a letter or email with information about when the vaccine will be offered, and you’ll be asked to give consent. If you do not wish to give consent, please say so on the consent form and return it to the school.
If your child misses their COVID-19 vaccination, for any reason, they will be offered it again at a later date.
Vaccinations for 5-11 year olds
All children aged 5-11 are now being offered COVID-19 vaccinations in line with the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). As well as protecting children against serious COVID infection and long covid, this will reduce the risk of children passing on the infection to others.
Appointments are available at selected vaccination centres and community pharmacies, which can be booked online at www.nhs.uk/covid vaccine or by calling 119, free of charge. Some GP vaccination services are also offering appointments for their patients in this age group but please do not contact your practice unless you are invited to make an appointment.
All vaccination centres offering the jab to this age group have gone through additional checks and have staff who are experienced in vaccinating children. They will offer a child-friendly environment for families with young children and longer appointment times to help put children at ease.
- Dr Bnar Talabani explains why children are being offered the vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccination: A guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11
- JCVI statement on vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old
- COVID-19 vaccination consent form for parents
Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)
Children at serious risk from the complications of COVID-19 infection include those with:
- Severe neurodisabilities
- A weakened immune system (immunosuppression)
- profound and multiple or severe learning disabilities
- being on the learning disability register
- Down’s syndrome
- long term serious conditions affecting their body, including chronic heart or respiratory disease or conditions affecting the kidneys, liver or digestive system.
How do I get an appointment for my child?
If your child is eligible for the vaccine, your child’s GP or hospital consultant will contact you if they need to have the vaccine and tell you how to book an appointment. They will be in touch over the coming weeks so please wait to hear and do not contact your GP practice.
For children who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, the person who is immunosuppressed will be written to with details of how to make an appointment for them.
Where will children be vaccinated?
Most children will be offered an appointment at a centre run by local GPs or at the hospital where they are treated. Some appointments may also be offered in special schools.
Extra time will be allowed for child appointments and staff will be specially trained in vaccinating this age group. If your child needs any reasonable adjustments at their appointment to enable them to have their vaccination, please let the service know when you book your appointment so this can be put in place.
Who will give my child their vaccination?
The vaccines will be given by staff who have been specially trained in communicating with and vaccinating children of these ages, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.
What vaccine will they have?
Children will be given two child-sized doses of the Pfizer vaccine, usually 8 weeks apart. Each vaccine is a third of the dose that is given to older children and adults.
Can the COVID vaccine be given as a nasal spray like the flu vaccine?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine is currently only available as an injection.
Does my child still need to be vaccinated if they have had COVID-19?
Yes, however they will need to wait 4 weeks from when they tested positive before they can have their first or second vaccine.
Frequently asked questions about the vaccine for children
My child is healthy. What are the benefits of them having the COVID-19 vaccine?
As well as protecting children and young people against serious COVID infection, by getting vaccinated, children and young people can reduce the risk of passing on the infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with. Getting the vaccine can also make it easier for children and young people to avoid putting their lives and their education on hold because of further disruption to schools, hobbies and social events due to the virus.
Where can I get my child the COVID-19 vaccine?
Appointments will be available at selected vaccination centres and community pharmacies and can be booked online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119. Some GP vaccination services will also be offering vaccinations to their patients in this age group but please do not contact your practice unless you are invited to make an appointment. [You can check your practice website to see if they are offering vaccinations for this age group].
My child has already had COVID-19 and has built up natural immunity. Why do they still need the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine should give your child stronger protection than natural immunity from previous infection against serious complications of infection – including any future waves due to new variants. Your child should also have some protection from the mild symptoms, and vaccination lowers the risk they will pass the virus on to others around them.
Is COVID-19 disease serious in young children?
For most children COVID-19 is a mild illness that may require a few days off school but rarely leads to complications. For a very few children, the symptoms can be more serious or last longer. There is evidence that some children will experience long COVID, and a minority of children may develop a delayed response known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS or PIMS) following COVID-19 infection.
Children with certain health conditions, or those with a weakened immune system, are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease. These children and those who live with someone who has a weakened immune system should already have been invited for vaccination.
What is long COVID?
For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long COVID”. The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get COVID-19. People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems. There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection. Common long COVID symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and difficulty sleeping. A full list of symptoms is available on the NHS website.
Is there more risk to a child of having COVID-19 or the vaccine?
The risk to a child of serious impact from COVID-19 is relatively low, but it will be lower if they get the vaccine. Research shows the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent the virus’s worst effects, can reduce the risk of hospitalisation, and it can protect your child and those around them from catching the virus as easily.
The majority of children and young people experience only mild symptoms following COVID-19 infection or are asymptomatic. However, there is evidence that some will experience Long COVID, and a minority of children may develop a delayed response known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS or PIMS) following COVID-19 infection.
The vaccine has been tested across the world and found to be safe and effective, including for children this age.
Why is the NHS offering vaccinations to 5–11-year-olds when the Government/ JCVI has said it is not urgent?
The JCVI has recommended that the NHS offer vaccinations to all 5-11 year olds, to boost immunity and increase their protection against any future waves of COVID-19. This recommendation has been accepted by Government and the vaccine has been approved for this age group by the UK’s medicines regulator, so the NHS is offering the vaccine to this group.
COVID-19 is still active and causing some children to miss out on their education and the things they enjoy.
The NHS wants to support families to make an informed choice, and to make things convenient and child-friendly for those who do decide to get it.
Will the vaccine give my child COVID-19?
Your child cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine. There is sometimes a delay in symptoms so it is possible they could catch the virus but not realise this until after their vaccination.
How long will the vaccine protect my child from COVID-19?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your child suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for their body to build up maximum protection from the vaccine. Two doses of the vaccine should give your child long lasting protection against serious complications of infection – including any future waves due to new variants. Some children may still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, but this should be less severe. If a child has had COVID-19 they will still get extra protection from the vaccine, but they will need to wait 12 weeks before getting vaccinated.
Which vaccine will my child be given and how many doses will they need?
Children aged 5-11 with no other underlying health conditions will be offered two paediatric (child) doses of the vaccine, with at least 12 weeks between doses. A paediatric dose is smaller than the doses given to those aged 12 and over.
Why is there a difference in the dose for 5–11-year-olds and those over 12?
5-11 year olds will be given a paediatric dose, 10 micrograms of Pfizer vaccine, compared to the 30 micrograms of Pfizer vaccine given to older children and adults. The majority of children and young people (CYP) experience only mild symptoms following COVID-19 infection or are asymptomatic. A smaller dose will provide protection while also reducing the risk of side-effects.
Is the paediatric dose as effective as the adult dose?
The immune response in 5-11 year olds after a paediatric dose of the vaccine will protect them from severe disease and reduce the risk of side-effects, in the same way that the adult dose protects those aged 12 and over.
The vaccine does not remove the virus, but research and experience of countries around the world shows it can prevent the worst effects of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of infection to your child and those around them.
My child is vulnerable/at risk. When should they have their vaccine?
Children aged 5-11 years-old who are more at risk from have already offered the vaccine and can get two paediatric (child) doses, eight weeks apart. Their GP or hospital specialist should have been in touch to arrange this.
I want to get my child vaccinated – what is the consent process?
Parents, carers or those with parental responsibilities should attend COVID-19 vaccination appointments with their child. Unlike vaccinations in schools, consent is collected on the day so this is the best way to make sure they can be vaccinated by going through questions together on site. For looked after children, please refer to the care plan where permissions and restrictions of consent will be outlined. Follow the link for further information on consent to treatment for children and young people.
My child is scared of injections – is it better to visit a vaccination site or GP/pharmacy?
All vaccination sites, including GPs and pharmacies are making efforts to ensure the vaccination environment is child-friendly and welcoming for families with young children. Vaccinators will make reasonable adjustments and fast-track individuals who are worried about vaccination. For example, sites may offer longer appointments and minimise the waiting time for children who are feeling anxious.
Will my child be offered a booster?
The NHS follows government decisions about who to vaccinate and the number of doses they received, which reflect recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI). Currently there are no plans to offer healthy 5-11 year olds a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Information about the JCVI’s decision to offer 5-11 year olds the vaccination, and the related evidence that was considered, can be found at JCVI statement on vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old (www.gov.uk)
- For further information please see these information leaflets: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-resources-for-children-and-young-people
- Easy read versions: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-easy-read-resources-for-children-and-young-people
- Further information is available on the NHS website.