Vaccinations for under 18s

Updated 23 August 2021

Frequently asked questions about vaccinating children and young people

 How old do children have to be to get the vaccine?

Vaccines are now being offered to young people aged 16 and over. They are also being offered to children aged 12 and over who have a condition that puts them at increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease, or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed. This includes children with severe neuro-disabilities, underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, Down’s Syndrome and those with severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register.

Where can children and young people get their vaccination?

16 and 17 year olds can either visit one of the walk-in clinics that offer jabs to their age group or wait to be contacted by their GP. Details of suitable clinics in Leeds are available online at www.leedsccg.nhs.uk/health/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/walk-in-clinics/ or you can use the NHS site finder to search for sites near your postcode.

If you are within 3 months of turning 18, you will be invited to book your appointments via the national booking service at the appropriate time and may also be invited via local vaccination services. If you are younger than this, you will not be able to use the national booking service 

Parents or guardians of children aged 12–15 will be contacted by the NHS to arrange an appointment. This is likely to be at a GP or hospital clinic. Walk-in services are not available for children under 16.

 I haven’t been contacted yet – when will I get an appointment?

The NHS is aiming to offer vaccination to all children and young people in the eligible groups by the start of the autumn term in September. If you/your child is in one of the new groups recommended for vaccination by the JCVI, you will be contacted by the NHS before then to arrange for your child’s vaccinations. 16 and 17 year olds can also visit one of the walk-in clinics that offer jabs – see www.leedsccg.nhs.uk/health/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/walk-in-clinics/ for details.

 How do I know the vaccine is safe for my child?

The JCVI has reviewed extensive clinical evidence for the safety of giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children and young people in the eligible groups and found it to be safe and effective.

 All the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety and effectiveness and have gone through all the same clinical trials and safety checks that all other licensed medicines have to complete before they can be used. So far, millions of people have had a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. 

Which vaccine will children and young people be offered?

In line with JCVI guidance, children and young people will be given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Why are 16 and 17 year olds only being offered one dose of the vaccine?

It is anticipated that a second dose will be offered later on, to increase the level of protection and contribute towards longer-term protection. However for now, the JCVI has recommended that we should focus on giving healthy 16 and 17 year olds a first dose and they will keep reviewing all the data to determine whether a second dose is needed. This will allow them to use the latest information available to advise on whether this will be required for this age group and if so, when it should be given.

 Young people who are called as part of the 16-17 year old programme and receive their first dose above the age of 17 years and 40 weeks may be scheduled to receive their second dose after an interval of at least eight weeks, as part of the “turning 18 programme”. Those who have an underlying health condition and have already been offered a vaccine will be offered a second dose

Why aren’t all children and young people being vaccinated?

Based on the current evidence, the JCVI has advised that only certain groups of children and young people are vaccinated. This takes into account a combination of factors including their risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus or passing it to others who may become seriously ill.

The JCVI is continually reviewing evidence on this matter and will advise if it decides that a change of approach is required.

If I have already had COVID-19, do I still need to have a vaccination?

Yes. Getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had COVID-19 as it is for those who haven’t, including people who have lingering mild symptoms.

Do I have to be registered with a GP to get a COVID-19 vaccination?

No. Anyone can get a vaccine, even if they do not have an NHS number or are not registered with a GP. If you are 16 or 17, the simplest way to do this is to go one of the walk-in vaccination services that are offering the jab to 16 and 17 year olds – details are available at www.leedsccg.nhs.uk/health/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/walk-in-clinics/

Children with health conditions that put them at increased risk of Covid-19 will already be receiving health care and will be contacted by the NHS.

Further information

The leaflets below have been produced by the NHS and Public Health England to provide further information on the Covid-19 vaccine and what to expect for children and young people:

Covid-19 vaccination: a guide for children and young people

What to expect after your Covid-19 vaccination: advice for children and young people