Covid vaccine advice for young people

Get all your questions answered about vaccines for this age group.
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Article updated 17 November 2021

Why have Covid vaccines been advised for 12-15-year-olds?

The government agreed in September 2021 to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to this age group after the UK’s chief medical officers said it would help reduce disruption to education. Time off school during the pandemic has had a ‘massive impact’ on the welfare and mental health of many children, they said.

The JCVI, the committee that advises government on vaccinations, says there is a ‘marginal’ individual benefit of vaccinating a healthy 12-15-year-old. Children do not usually become seriously ill with of having the Covid vaccine.

Which vaccine and dose is being offered to 12-15-year-olds?

All young people ar being offered a Pfizer vaccine. Most children aged 12-15 years are being offered a single dose. In other countries, two doses have been offered to children, but a decision hasn’t yet made about whether to offer a second dose to this age group here in the UK.

At-risk children who have certain health conditions or live with others who are extremely clinically vulnerable, are being offered two doses of the vaccine. They should have already been contacted by the NHS about these doses.

Where can 12-15-year-olds get the vaccine?

Either at school local vaccine hubs or a mass vaccination centre.

At first this age group could only get it a vaccine in school but this policy was changed in late October 2021.

How does a 12-15-year-old get a vaccine outside of school?

  • Book online using the NHS national Covid vaccination booking service.
  • Call 119 if you don’t have Internet access.
  • Textphone 18001 119 or use the NHS 119 BSL interpreter service if you have difficulties communicating or hearing or are a British Sign Language user.
  • Walk in without an appointment to Broad Street Mall Mass Vaccination Centre but please bring a parent/guardian with you
  • The Broad Street Mall centre is open 7 days a week, 9.30am-7pm

The national booking service will show your nearest vaccine location - as well as Broad Street Mall, some pharmacies and GP hubs can give vaccines to young people.

Can children have the vaccine if they've recently had Covid?

National guidance changed on 17 November 2021. Children aged 12-15 must now wait 12 weeks from any positive PCR test before getting vaccinated. Originally the wait was a month but evidence now suggests that leaving a longer gap will further help to reduce the small risk of heart inflammation (myocarditis) after having a Covid vaccine.

Are there any vaccine side-effects?

Young people may experience short-term effects such as a sore arm, tiredness, flu-like symptoms or headaches.

There have been extremely rare reports that young people have had inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) afterwards, but most of them have recovered from this.

Does the Pfizer vaccine contain animal or egg products?

No.

What about vaccines for16-17-year-olds?

A single Pfizer dose has been available since August 2021 for this age group - either via an appointment booked through the national booking service, or as a walk-in at Broad Street Mall Mass Vaccine Centre.

On 15 November 2021, changes were announced to offer 16-17-year-olds a second Pfizer vaccine dose. This should be given 12 weeks after their first dose, or 12 weeks after any positive PCR test, whichever is later. This gap is longer than the eight weeks recommended for adults, because evidence shows waiting longer will help further reduce the small risk of young people getting heart inflammation (myocarditis) from getting vaccinated.

Young people aged 16-17 who are ‘at risk’ due to having certain health conditions or living with immunosuppressed people, will continue to be offered two doses, eight weeks apart.

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