If you are a young person, a dedicated website has been set up with all you need to know about the vaccine programme and the vaccines themselves – www.everythingcovid.info


Children aged 12-15

The Government has announced that people aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from the four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs).

Children who are 12-15 can receive their vaccine in two ways:

  1. From the schools immunisation team, either at school or at a follow up session (which are also available for children who are home schooled);
  2. By booking an appointment through the National Booking System either online or by calling 119.

This video explains the two different ways that 12-15 year olds can get their COVID-19 vaccination.

12-15 year old school visits/follow up sessions

School visits are now underway to offer the majority of 12 to 15 year olds a vaccination. Each school has either been visited or have a booked visit.

Parental, guardian or carer consent is being sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination visit in line with existing school vaccination programmes.

Every parent, guardian or carer will receive a letter with the details of this session for your school, the consent process, and next steps.

Follow up sessions are also now being arranged for anyone who missed the vaccination session at school. Details are being shared in a further letter to all parents, carers and guardians.

The follow up sessions will also be available for people who are home schooled – details are being shared with parents, carers and guardians.

The Secretaries of State for Education and for Health and Social Care have written an open letter to parents of secondary school age children.

Text line for 12 to 15 year olds

We have launched a Textline for healthy 12-15 year olds wishing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine – or those wanting to find out more about it.

The Textline will give them access to expert advice from registered healthcare professionals; and this will include providing information to them on consent issues and process.

This is a service for 12-15 year olds only so the team will not provide advice to parents, carers and legal guardians regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

The service can be accessed by texting 07312277727.

The team will not provide advice to parents, carers and legal guardians regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, there are existing pathways in place that will manage these enquires, namely the COVID-19 Vaccination General Enquires:

The Textline will be managed using a web based platform called ChatHealth. ChatHealth is a secure and confidential text messaging service used by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust School Nursing Teams.

More information.

See FAQs for 12 to 15 year olds

Why should my child have the vaccine?

Why do young people aged 12 to 15 years need to get the vaccine?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection is typically mild in most young people, but it can be very unpleasant for some and one dose of the vaccine will provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.

Vaccinating 12 to 15 year olds also helps reduce the need for young people to have time off school and reduces the risk of spread of COVID-19 within schools. The vaccine will protect young people from COVID-19 and reduce disruption to education, which is good for their welfare and mental health.

What advice has the Government been given?

The Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) in the UK have recommended that children aged 12 to 15 have one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves from catching COVID-19, and to reduce the transmission in schools and keep pupils in the classroom.

In their recommendation the UK CMOs recognise that the overwhelming benefits of vaccination for adults, where risk-benefit is very strongly in favour of vaccination for almost all groups, are not as clear-cut for children and young people aged 12 to 15. However, it recognised that vaccinating children in this age group would reduce transmission of the virus in schools and in turn minimise the disruption to individual students and to schools if positive cases are found in classes. Their advice also recognises the massive impact that absent or disrupted face to face education has on the welfare and mental health of many children and young people.

My child is young and low risk so why should they have the COVID-19 vaccine?

It is important to remember that Coronavirus can affect anyone. For most children and young people, COVID-19 is usually a milder illness that rarely leads to complications. For a very few the symptoms may last for longer than the usual 2 to 3 weeks. The vaccination will help to protect your child against COVID-19.

Anyone can get COVID-19, including young people, and anyone can spread it. Getting vaccinated is one of the best things to do to protect against the virus, vaccines.

COVID-19 has also already disrupted education and meant that children have had to learn from home for a large part of last year. By reducing the spread of the virus in schools we can try to minimise any future disruption to education and time in schools for children.

Will the vaccine protect my child?

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 some protection from the vaccine.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

My child has already had COVID-19 – should they still get the vaccine?

Yes, they should be vaccinated regardless of whether they have already had a COVID-19 infection because:

  • research has not yet shown how long people who have had COVID-19 are protected from getting it again after they recover
  • vaccination helps to boost your protection, even if you’ve already had COVID-19

Safety of the vaccine

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Before any vaccine can be used, it must pass strict quality, safety and effectiveness tests and be granted approval by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The COVID-19 vaccine is no different and has been approved by the MHRA.

Are there any side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short term, and not everyone gets them.

With the vaccine we use in under-18s, side effects are more common with the second dose and children aged 12 to 15 are only receiving a single dose at the current time.

Very common side effects include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where your child had their injection. This tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • general aches, or mild flu like symptoms

They can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help make them feel better. Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate your child has COVID-19 or another infection. Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week.

If their symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, please call NHS 111.

Less common side effects

Recently, cases of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis or pericarditis) have been reported very rarely after COVID-19 vaccines. Most of these cases have been in younger men and usually a few days after the second vaccination.

Most of these people recovered and felt better following rest and simple treatments. If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your child’s vaccination (show them the vaccination card, if possible) so that they can assess you properly.

How do I know the Covid-19 vaccine has been widely tested on people like me and my child?

Each of the vaccines has been tested on tens of thousands of people across the world and more than 30 million people have taken the vaccine in the UK. They’re tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, representative of the UK population and of all ages.

Can my child catch coronavirus from the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, they can’t.

It is important to be clear that the COVID-19 vaccine does not use a live virus.

In terms of the evidence that is available, in a study published in 2021, only very small concentrations of spike protein were detected in the first five days following vaccination. These were not toxic, and in contrast, people who become infected with COVID-19 can develop very high levels of the spike protein that may cause adverse effects.

There is no clinical evidence to suggest that these very small circulating levels of spike protein produced by a recently vaccinated individual (or individuals) pose any clinical risk to an unvaccinated individual.

But it’s possible to have caught the virus and not realise they have the symptoms until after their vaccination. If they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, stay at home and arrange to have a test. If you need more information on coronavirus symptoms, check nhs.uk

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

Like any vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine works by teaching a person’s immune system how to create antibodies that protect them from disease. It’s safer for the immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the disease.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine affect fertility?

There is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility, or a person’s chances of becoming pregnant.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause heart problems in young people?

Worldwide, there have been very rare cases of inflammation of the heart called myocarditis or pericarditis reported after COVID-19 vaccines. Most of these young people felt better following rest and simple treatments. These cases have been seen mostly in younger males and mainly occurred within a few days of the second dose; it is extremely rare after the first dose of the vaccine.

Is the vaccine safe for children with allergies or other medical conditions?

There are very few children or young people who cannot receive the vaccine. If in doubt, young people and their parents or carers should check with the school immunisation team or consult their GP or specialist clinician.

I understand it will be given at the same time as the flu vaccination, is this safe?

National evidence has set out that it is safe for people to receive both the COVID-19 and flu vaccination at the same time.

The MHRA, which licences vaccines, has said that it is safe to do so and the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations has explained that a recent clinical trial – call the ComFluCOV trial – has shown that giving both vaccines is generally well tolerated and there is no reduction in the immune response to either vaccine.

Therefore, it is considered that the effectiveness of each vaccine will not be affected by giving both together, and it is safe for the individual.

It is also important to note that it is only that the vaccinations are given at the same time, and the actual immunisation itself has not been combined. The COVID-19 vaccination is an injection and the flu vaccination is a nasal spray. Whilst they may be given at the same time, they are different immunisations and are not given as one combined dose.

Can my child have the vaccine?

Can people with allergies have the COVID-19 vaccine?

Anyone, including children, should not have the COVID-19 vaccine if they have ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to:

  • a previous dose of the same vaccine
  • any of the ingredients in the vaccine

Tell healthcare staff before your child is vaccinated if they’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction. Serious allergic reactions are rare. If they do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and can treat them immediately.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine vegetarian?

The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in the UK do not contain any components of animal origin and so, yes, they are vegetarian.

How do I know if the COVID-19 vaccine is suitable for people of my faith?

The approved COVID-19 vaccines are suitable for people of all faiths. They don’t contain any components of animal origin or foetal cells.

Organisation of school visits and follow up sessions

When will my child’s school be visited?

If your child’s school is yet to be visited, you will be receiving a letter from the Sussex 0-19 Immunisation Service shortly setting out when they propose to visit the school and the next steps.

It is expected that your child’s school will be visited on one day and all of the vaccinations will take place on that day.

Whilst we recognise that not every 12 to 15 year old may be present on that day, this is the most effective way to ensure that our teams can visit all schools as quickly as possible.

In order to support those students who may not be present on the day but who wish to have a vaccination and who have consent, follow up sessions are now in place. Further letters are now being shared with the dates and details of those sessions for children who have not yet had their vaccination.

How are visits taking place?

As with existing school immunisation programmes, SCFT immunisation teams visit the school with all of the necessary equipment, and work with your child’s school to provide the vaccinations in a safe environment for staff and for students.

How long do the visits take?

The length of the visit will depend on how many children have consent in place by the time of the visit.

The SCFT teams will work with school teams to monitor the consent system and review the numbers of students in order to make the best arrangements and keep disruption to a minimum.

Consent process

Will every child need consent?

Yes every child will need explicit consent from a parent, guardian or carer.

If this is for a schools visit or follow up sessio, you will be asked to complete an online system that is used annually for the seasonal flu vaccinations.

You will receive a letter from your school with a link to the online consent system. You can use this to register whether your child will or won’t have the vaccination.

If you use the National Booking System, then by booking on behalf of your child, you are consenting to their vaccination.

What if a parent consents and a child doesn’t want it?

The national programme is clear that it is essential that children and young people aged 12 to 15 and their parents, guardian or carer are supported in their decisions, whatever decisions they take, and are not stigmatised either for accepting, or not accepting, the vaccination offer. Individual choice should be respected.

For the school visits, parent, carers and guardians are asked to complete an online consent system before their child is vaccinated. Only children with parental consent will be offered a vaccination on the day of the visit, and at this opportunity they are able to agree to it or say no. No child will be forced to have a vaccination that does not want to recieve it.

What if a parent does not consent but a child wants it?

For the school visits, parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by our teams prior to vaccination in line with existing school vaccination programmes.

If a child does not have parental consent but wishes to have the vaccination, they will not be vaccinated on the day of the school visit. Their details will be taken and the schools immunisation team will contact them and initially encourage them to allow their family to join the conversation. If they refuse, then national consent processes will be followed to assess their competency.

What if one parent consents and the other doesn’t?

For the schools visits, any negative consent return is a negative, and the child will not be offered the vaccination on the day of the visit.

Questions?

I have a medical questions about a child’s eligibility, where can I get help?

In the first instance, please speak to your child’s GP as they will be best placed to know your child and their medical history to respond to the question or concern you may have.

If you have tried their GP and you still have a question, you can contact the Vaccine Enquiries Team for help and support:


Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically extremely vulnerable

Children aged 12 to 15 will be offered a vaccination at their local vaccination service if:

  • they have a condition that means they’re at high risk from COVID-19
  • they live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)

Conditions that mean your child may be at high risk and can get vaccinated in this way are:

  • a severe neurological condition/diagnosis, such as cerebral palsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • severe or multiple learning disabilities (or they’re on the learning disability register)
  • a condition that means they’re more likely to get infections (such as some genetic conditions or types of cancer)

If your child is eligible for vaccination, you’ll be contacted by a local NHS service such as their GP surgery or a team working on their behalf to arrange their appointments.

See FAQs for 12 to 15 year olds who are clinically extremely vulnerable

Which children are included in this group?

The JCVI has set out that children aged 12 to 15 years with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19, should be offered 2 doses of Pfizer-BNT162b2 vaccine with an interval of 8 weeks between doses.

This currently includes children with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register.

Details regarding additional person-groups with underlying health conditions to be offered vaccination will be provided as updates in the Green Book.

Children and young people aged 12 years and over who are household contacts of persons (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed should be offered 2 doses of Pfizer-BNT162b2 vaccine on the understanding that the main benefits from vaccination are related to the potential for indirect protection of their household contact who is immunosuppressed. The offer of vaccination may help to alleviate stress and anxiety experienced by the children and young people living in these difficult circumstances.

I haven’t yet received an invitation for my child, what do I do?

If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable and should be vaccinated by the local vaccination services, please have patience, you will be contacted over the coming days.

If they are not clinically extremely vulnerable, you will be contacted by your child’s school with the details of the vaccination session planned there.

If you are 16 and 17, and would like to go to a walk in session then there are walk in sessions during the week. See the latest sessions.

I have received an invite for my child but it isn’t working / I can’t book an appointment

If there is a number on the invite, please contact the team who invited you directly.

You can also email us at sxccg.vaccineenquiries@nhs.net, or call our vaccine enquiry phone line: 0800 433 4545 (open 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday) if you need help and support. See the privacy notice for information about how your data is used.

Please note the team cannot make bookings but they can help to make contact for you with the right team.

Why is the NHS only vaccinating some children and young people against COVID-19, and not all?

The NHS vaccinates in line with guidance from the independent JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), which provides expert advice on vaccinations to UK health departments. The JCVI recommends that only certain groups of children and young people are vaccinated because of a combination of factors including their risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, passing it to others who may become seriously ill, and evidence of safety and effectiveness.


Young people aged 16 and 17

You can get your 1st dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re aged 16 or 17.

You have two ways to receive your 1st dose:

  1. You can go to one of the walk-in vaccination sessions. No appointment is needed and you can simply turn up to receive your vaccination. See the latest dates and venues for walk-in sessions.
  2. You can book via the National Booking System – by visiting the website or calling 119.

You will be offered the Pfizer vaccine.

See FAQs for 16 to 17 year olds

I am 16/17, when will I be invited and when can I get my jab?

You can get your jab now.

You can book an appointment by visiting the National Booking System website or calling 119.

Alternatively, you can go to walk-in vaccination session. You don’t need to call in advance and you don’t need an appointment; you can simply turn up during the opening hours. Check the latest list of walk-in sessions.

I have received an invite but it isn’t working / I can’t book an appointment

If there is a number on the invite, please contact the team who invited you directly.

You can also email us at sxccg.vaccineenquiries@nhs.net, or call our vaccine enquiry phone line: 0800 433 4545 (open 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday) if you need help and support. See the privacy notice for information about how your data is used.

Please note the team cannot make bookings but they can help to make contact for you with the right team.

Why is the NHS only vaccinating some children and young people against COVID-19, and not all?

The NHS vaccinates in line with guidance from the independent JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), which provides expert advice on vaccinations to UK health departments. The JCVI recommends that only certain groups of children and young people are vaccinated because of a combination of factors including their risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, passing it to others who may become seriously ill, and evidence of safety and effectiveness.


Young people aged 16 and 17 who are in an at risk group

For some time, young people aged 16 and 17 who in an ‘at-risk’ group have been offered two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have not yet received yours, please speak to your GP practice. You will be offered the Pfizer vaccine.


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