Children aged 12-15

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

The government has accepted the advice of the four UK CMOs and the NHS is preparing to deliver a schools-based vaccination programme. Invitations for vaccination will begin next week.

In Sussex, plans have been developed and over the next six weeks each school will be offered a visit to provide the vaccination for 12 to 15 year old students. Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination 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.

See FAQs for 12 to 15 year olds

Why should my child have the vaccine?

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.

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. 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.

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 visits

When will my child’s school be visited?

Your school 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 that they need to take to prepare for the session.

It is expected that your 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, we will look at follow up sessions or alternative arrangements.

How will the visits take place?

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

How long will 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 your school team to monitor the consent system and review the numbers of students in order to make the best arrangements and keep disruption to a minimum.

What do you need from us to prepare for the vaccinations?

In the direct communication from SCFT there will be a letter for parents, guardians and carers of 12-15 year olds.

We will be asking schools to send this out as soon as possible so that there is time for families to review all of the information, make an informed decision and complete the consent form.

Please take time once you receive this letter to consider and make a decision. If you can complete the consent form based on your decision as quickly as possible, it will allow teams to plan their visit effectively.

Consent process

Will every child need consent?

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

We will be asking for this via the 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.

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.

We will follow national guidance in instances where a parent gives consent, but the child does not consent.

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

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

We will follow national guidance in instances where a parent does not give consent, but the child requests a vaccination.

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 (who are not in an ‘at risk’ group)

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 will be contacted by your local vaccination service. Your GP practice or a team working on their behalf will contact you to arrange an appointment for you.

If you are 16 and 17 you cannot currently book your appointment on the national booking system or by calling 119 unless you turn 18 in the next three months.

If you will be turning 18 soon, you can book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments online.

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?

Local vaccination services are contacting 16 and 17 year olds to invite them for an appointment. It is likely to take up to 27 August for the services to text or call everyone on their list. Please don’t worry, you will be contacted.

Alternatively, you may want to go to a 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.

My child is 12 to 15, when will they be invited and when can they get their jab?

We expect that families will start to be contacted by Monday 23 August to arrange vaccination appointments.

It has taken longer than planned as the details of who is eligible only came out to vaccination services on Monday 16 August. Teams are now working to identify the children on their registered patient lists who are eligible so that they can be contacted.

You may be contacted by your child’s GP practice or a team working on their behalf to organise the vaccination appointment.

Which children aged 12 to 15 are eligible?

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.

When will appointments start?

16 and 17 year olds are being contacted now and being invited for an appointment from next Wednesday.

We expect that walk-in sessions for 16 and 17 year olds will also start at that site next week, and this will be confirmed on our website as soon as the dates are confirmed.

For 12 to 15 year olds, GP practices have received the search codes this week to identify their eligible patients. This has now been completed and these are being provided to the vaccination services so that they can contact these patients and offer them an appointment.

The final arrangements are being made in terms of where these appointments will be in the city and families will be contacted as soon as possible.

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

Please have patience, you will be contacted over the coming days.

If you are 16 and 17, and would like to go to a walk in session then there are vaccines available in Chichester and Eastbourne every day. It is only not possible to do the same at the Brighton Centre as it is has a different vaccine type and so cannot offer to this age group.

The vaccination teams are working extremely hard to meet all the requirements to offer the vaccine safely to children and young people and they will be contact to arrange an appointment as soon as possible.

What if my child is about to turn 12 or about to turn 16?

At the current time, the COVID-19 vaccine is only available for children who are 12 years old who meet the criteria, and who are 16 and 17 years old.

Vaccination teams will be offering this vaccination over the coming weeks, and so children and young people will become eligible as they turn 12 (and meet the other criteria) and 16.

New searches will be carried out over the coming weeks and anyone who has a birthday and becomes eligible should be invited for vaccination by their local team.

If someone turns 16 they would also be able to attend any of the walk-in sessions for 16 and 17 year olds.

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.

My child is not in one of the eligible groups. When will they be able to be vaccinated?

There are no current plans to vaccinate children and young people outside of the eligible groups. However, the JCVI is continually reviewing evidence on this matter and will advise the Government if it decides that a change of approach is required.

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.


Helpful materials

Partners