Throughout the pandemic and vaccination programme, one of the key jobs of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has been to consider the impact on children’s health. The JCVI is the Government’s advisory body on vaccines.
Please note: if a child has had a positive Covid-19 test result, we can’t vaccinate them until they 12 weeks after that result date.
The COVID-19 vaccine continues to offer the best protection for children aged 12 to 15.’ Ethel Changa, Clinical Nurse Advisor for the COVID-19 vaccine programme, highlights why it is important for 12 to 15 year olds to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
Which children are now eligible for vaccination?
All children aged 12-15 years old are now eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination. We are also offering vaccinations for children aged 5-11 who are clinically vulnerable or who live in households with people who are immunocompromised.
Which vaccine will be used for children?
Children will be vaccinated using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is also known as Comirnaty. Comprehensive, peer-reviewed research has been carried out on adults and separately on children aged 12-15 and on children aged 5-11.
The vaccine is delivered using an injection, usually into the shoulder. This is different from the nasal spray used for some other vaccines.
Lydia Roebuck shares some factual information with young people and their families.
Is there a difference between how at-risk children and healthy children will be vaccinated?
Yes, at-risk children are advised to receive two doses of vaccine. For more details on how this is organised please see the question further down: “How are vaccinations being carried out for clinically extremely vulnerable children?”.
Healthy children are advised to receive only one dose. Information on this process is below
How will healthy children receive their vaccination?
Vaccinations are being carried out in Derbyshire secondary schools. Specific arrangements are being made with each school to ensure the vaccine is delivered safely and effectively.
However, you can also book vaccinations for children at some vaccination sites in Derbyshire and beyond through the National Booking Service. All sites are listed on the main clinics list, which also shows which sites can vaccinate 12-15-year-olds
Please note that any child who has had a positive Covid-19 test result needs to wait 12 weeks before receiving a vaccine.
Vaccinations are not planned for primary schools, with parents and guardians instead able to book their children in for vaccination at vaccination sites. The main clinics list will be updated to include this information shortly.
‘You’re protecting the people you love.’ – Stanley, who got his COVID-19 vaccine because his mum is clinically extremely vulnerable. This October half term, find out how parents and guardians of children aged 12 to 15 can book the vaccine online.
Who is carrying out children’s vaccinations?
Local NHS agencies are leading the vaccination process, and all staff are required to undergo special training in using the Covid-19 vaccines. They also need to have specific safeguarding training, and many will also have experience working with the School Age Immunisation Service, so they are accustomed to working with children.
How do the children consent to being vaccinated?
Schools will contact those with parental responsibility to secure consent for their children to be vaccinated. This information will be shared with the relevant local NHS organisation which is delivering the vaccines, so that the correct amount of vaccine is taken to the school on the day.
What if I don’t want my child to be vaccinated?
The Covid-19 vaccines have undergone rigorous trials on children, and it has been determined that children face a greater risk of serious illness from infection that they do from vaccination.
However, if you are responsible for providing consent you may decide not to do so, and that decision will be respected.
In some circumstance, children under the age of 16 can consent to medical treatment such as vaccination even if this conflicts with their parents’ view. This is covered by a concept called Gillick competency, and you can read more information about Gillick competency here.
Katie, aged 12, has had her Covid-19 jab so she can see her friends in school. After home schooling during the start of the pandemic, Katie’s mum was keen for her to get vaccinated to reduce disruption to her education.
What if I want my child to be vaccinated but he or she is away from school on vaccination day?
Further vaccination sessions and other opportunities are being provided for children to be vaccinated at school or at vaccination sites, ensuring nobody who wants a vaccination will miss out. Sessions at vaccination sites can be booked via the National Booking System, and schools will communicate with parents and guardians when the vaccination teams are due to visit.
Can I attend a vaccination at the school with my child?
No, enabling accompaniments for all children would place too large an organisational and security burden on schools. It is likely that opportunities after half-term will make it possible to accompany your child, but we advise that early vaccination is the safest and most effective course of action.
How are vaccinations being carried out for clinically extremely vulnerable children?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that 5 to 11-year-olds who are either in a clinical risk group or are a household contact of someone of any age who is immunosuppressed should be offered the Covid-19 vaccine.
How will I know if my child is eligible?
GPs and hospital specialists have been asked to identify 5 to 11-year-olds who are eligible for Covid-19 vaccination.
Parents and guardians will be notified if their child should get the vaccine and told how they can book an appointment. For children eligible as a household contact, the person who is immunosuppressed will be written to directly.
If you receive a letter or text, please take it with you to your appointment.
The NHS will be in touch with you if your child is eligible, so please wait to hear and do not contact your GP.
Where will at-risk children be given their vaccine?
Vaccination services have been asked to make preparations to vaccinate this cohort and consider necessary reasonable adjustments to accommodate their needs on an individual basis, to ensure children and their families have a positive experience.
It is expected that most children will be vaccinated at a site run by local GPs, a hospital or a specialist children’s centre. In cases where this isn’t possible, local arrangements will be in place with community pharmacies, vaccination centres, hospital hubs, housebound teams and in some cases at special schools.
Parents or guardians will also be able to take their child to a walk-in appointment, however it’s important to be aware that not every site will be able to offer vaccination for this group, so please use our online walk-in site finder (www.nhs.uk/vaccine-walk-in) to make sure you choose the right site.
If this is the preferred option, when attending the appointment, you will need to remember to take the letter from your child’s GP or hospital consultant confirming their eligibility for the vaccine.
Please be aware that parents cannot currently book their child’s vaccination appointment by calling 119 or on the NHS website.
‘We’ve got an increased confidence now in their protection.’ – Abdul explains why it was important for his twin boys, Asadh and Ismail, to get their COVID-19 vaccine at school.
What are the eligibility criteria for the clinical risk group for 5 to 11-year-olds?
A clinician will determine whether or not a child within this age group should be offered Covid-19 vaccination. Children considered at higher risk of severe Covid-19 include those who have:
- chronic respiratory disease
- chronic heart conditions
- chronic conditions of the kidney, liver or digestive system
- chronic neurological disease
- severe, profound or multiple learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome or are on the learning disability register
- endocrine disorders
- a weakened immune system due to a treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
- asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
- serious genetic irregularities that affect a number of systems, including mitochondrial disease and chromosomal abnormalities
Children who are about to receive planned immunosuppressive therapy should be considered for vaccination prior to commencing therapy.
A full list of the eligibility criteria is available in table 4 of the Green Book, chapter 14a.
What are the eligibility criteria for 5 to 11-year-olds classed as a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed?
Children aged 5 to 11 years who are expected to share living accommodation on most days (and therefore for whom continuing close contact is unavoidable) with individuals of any age who are immunosuppressed will be entitled to a Covid-19 vaccination.
Are the Covid-19 vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds the same as those used for adults?
The preferred option for children in this cohort is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty®) 10 micrograms dose concentrate, which is a formulation for children aged 5 to 11. However, it is recognised that in exceptional circumstances, and where it is in the best interests of the patient, clinicians may decide to vaccinate children and young people under the age of 12 with a smaller volume of the adult version of the vaccine (a fractionated dose).
What adjustments are being made to support children with additional needs attending vaccination appointments?
Our standards require sites to allocate more time for vaccinating children. If a child will require any reasonable adjustments at their vaccination appointment to support attendance and delivery of the vaccination, parents should make any requirements needed known when they are booking the appointment on behalf of their child. It is important services are aware of any appropriate arrangements needed in advance.
What safeguarding measures are the NHS putting in place?
Additional safeguarding standards will be in place for staff involved in vaccinating this age group. All the clinical staff working in the centre are required to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. In addition, all staff (excluding stewards) must have additional bespoke training.
Will vaccination staff be offered special training?
A number of additional resources have been prepared to assist providers in preparing the workforce and the environment for young children. All staff involved in vaccinating 5 to 11-year-olds will have appropriate training specific to communicating with and vaccinating this age group. For staff vaccinating children with special educational needs and disabilities, all clinical staff are required to have the skill and competences to care for this group of patients.
Will vaccination appointments be available at flexible times to fit around families’ work and school commitments?
Vaccination sites should ensure a range of times are available which are convenient to parents and children.
Can vaccination be provided with a nasal spray like with flu?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine is currently only available as an injection.
What happens if my local GP has opted out of giving vaccines to this age group?
GPs who aren’t providing vaccinations to this age group have been asked to identify all eligible patients on their lists and ensure they receive an invitation for vaccination at another local site.