COVID-19 vaccine FAQs for people aged 12-15
The Covid-19 vaccine: frequently asked questions and answers for people aged 12-15
This page hosts questions specific to those aged 12-15. For the full list of frequently asked questions please click here.
Yes. We know that these vaccines stimulate a stronger and possibly longer lasting immune response than a natural infection from the virus itself. We also don’t know how long natural immunity lasts, or if that immunity is protective against the new variants of the virus. Even if your child has already had COVID-19 it is still vitally important to get them vaccinated.
Emerging evidence from the UK and other countries, suggests that leaving a longer interval between infection and vaccination may further reduce the already small risk of myocarditis in younger age groups. The change to the wait period between COVID infection and vaccination for young people has been made based on the utmost precaution. More detailed information is available on the GOV.uk website.
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Any serious side effects are very rare and appear within the first few days of having the vaccine. So, if your child has not had any side effects then everything is fine. More detailed information is available on the GOV.uk website.
No. The vaccine will stay in their body for a few weeks. During this time their own immune system is using information from the vaccine to train itself in how to defend them from a real attack of coronavirus. The components of the vaccine, once they’ve done their job, will be broken down by their body and removed.
No. There is no biological mechanism for the vaccine to affect fertility and the early studies in animals and “real world” data from the roll out in people in the USA found no evidence that the vaccines affected their fertility. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has produced an FAQ you can read at: https://bit.ly/36zDiaB
Serious allergic reactions to vaccination are very rare but tend to happen within a few minutes of the injection, which is why everyone who receives the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are observed at the vaccination site for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Our vaccinators are trained to spot and manage allergic reactions and the necessary equipment to treat an allergic reaction will be available.
Children with allergies to common food items are not at higher risk of these serious allergies. However, if your child has existing allergies please bring this to the attention of the vaccinator and if you have concerns you can speak to your GP about getting vaccinated in a community clinic where your child can be observed for a minimum of 30 minutes after their vaccination.
All parents or those with parental responsibility are asked for consent and will usually make this decision jointly with their children. The ‘guide for children and young people’ is addressed to the child (as the recipient of the vaccine) and encourages them to discuss the decision about the vaccine with their parents.
Vaccination is not mandatory. Parents will be asked to give their consent for the vaccination. However, children may express a wish to have the vaccine and may have the capacity to provide informed consent themselves. Parents should be encouraged to speak to their children ahead of time so that there is discussion and agreement on how to go forwards with consent before the vaccination session at the school.
If a child wishes to have the vaccine without parental consent, the parent and child will be asked to attend a out of school community clinic to discuss and access the vaccine. Vaccines will not be administered in a school setting without consent.
Under UK law young people under the age of 16 can consent to, or decline, medical treatment as long as they are deemed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to do so. This is known as being ‘Gillick’ competent. If a young person requests medical treatment that their parent has not consented or declines treatment a parent has consented to a trained health professional will undertake the competency test before deciding whether treatment can be provided. The assessment also includes counselling and support for the young person to involve their parent in the decision.
Whilst schools may host immunisation services, they are not responsible for securing parental or child consent, for assessing if a child is mature enough to make their own decision or mediating between parents and children who may disagree about whether or not to consent. Accountability for offering COVID-19 vaccines to children and young people sits with the school vaccination provider and not with the school.
Children aged 12-15 years with the following specific health conditions are more at risk of becoming seriously ill or being hospitalised if they catch COVID-19 and classed as clinically extremely vulnerable:
- conditions that cause breathing difficulties for example severe or difficult to control asthma requiring continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids
- cystic fibrosis
- serious heart problems
- kidney, liver or a gut disease
- a neurodisability or neuromuscular condition
- a severe or profound learning disability
- Down’s Syndrome
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (steroid medication, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
- an organ transplant
- cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
- conditions affecting the child’s spleen, for example sickle cell disease, or if they have had their spleen removed
- serious genetic problems
- other serious medical conditions as advised by your doctor or specialist
Children with these health conditions will be contacted by their GP or paediatrician and will be able to receive their vaccination at the in school or out of school community clinics and the local vaccination centres offering dedicated sessions for children and young people.
Pfizer-BioNTech is the only vaccine currently authorised for those aged 12-15.
Community clinics will be set up to vaccinate children who miss the first vaccination in their school. This will help to ensure that the following pupils can access the vaccine:
- those turning 12 years after the school session
- those who were absent from school on the day
- those who have recently had a COVID-19 infection
- those who subsequently change their minds or take longer to reach a decision.
The COVID-19 vaccinations started at the end of September. Your local school vaccination service will be in touch to discuss consent and inform you of vaccination sessions.
Everyone aged 12 and over should now have 2 doses (second doses 12 weeks after the first) and you can book your first or sceond vaccine using the national booking system, calling 119, or where possible, book directly with, or walk into, a local vaccination centre - Full details of where and how you can do this are here.
Yes. All children in the eligible age group who do not attend school, for example those who are home educated or living in secure accommodation will be able to access the vaccine through the out of school community clinics.
No children under the age of 12 can yet receive a COVID-19 vaccination as the vaccine is not licensed for children under 12. However, once eligible these children will be able to attend an out of school community clinic.
For children who want to be vaccinated but are unable for health or other reasons to have the vaccine on the day, out of school community clinics will be available.
You or your child can:
- book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
- check if there is a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site near you to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
Not all walk-in vaccination sites can vaccinate children aged 12 to 15. More sites will become available over time.
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term and not everyone gets them. The common side effects should only last a day or two. The Pfizer vaccine tends to cause more side effects after the second dose of the vaccine.
Common side effects in the first day or two include:
- having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection
- feeling tired
- headache, aches and chills
You may also have flu-like symptoms with shivering and shaking episodes for a day or two. However, a high temperature could also indicate that you have COVID-19 or another infection.
You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better.
An uncommon side effect is swollen glands in the armpit or neck on the same side as the arm where you had the vaccine. This can last for around 10 days, but if it lasts longer see your doctor.
If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you or your parents can call NHS 111. If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination (show them the vaccination card) so that they can assess you properly.
A range of resources are available on the gov.uk website and will be regularly updated. These can be found here.