Explains why 12 to 15 year olds are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Why are 12-15 year olds being offered the COVID-19 vaccine?
This was recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers after reviewing evidence on the public health benefits of extending vaccination to younger people, including:
- the mental health and long-term prospects for young people
- the effect on education
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) also advised that the benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms in this age group.
NHS Wales will begin offering the COVID-19 vaccine to young people aged 12 to 15 years from 4 October.
The decision to have a COVID-19 vaccine is a choice for each individual to make.
If you have questions about the vaccine chat about what you think with your parent(s) or guardian. Take time to look up accurate information from trusted sources, such as Vaccination information for children and young people on the Public Health Wales website.
Will the vaccine protect younger people?
The vaccine given to children and young people is the Pfizer vaccine. This has been approved by the UK’s independent medicines regulator for use from age 12.
Like all medicines no vaccine is completely effective. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having the vaccine, but this should be less severe. It will take a few weeks for your body to build up some protection after having the vaccine.
Are younger people at risk from COVID-19 infection?
COVID-19 can affect anyone. Some children and young people are at greater risk of serious illness if they have COVID-19. This includes those who already live with severe health conditions and those with weakened immune systems.
For most children and young people COVID-19 is a mild illness. Symptoms may last for no longer than 2 to 3 weeks. Very few children and young people with COVID-19 infection go on to have severe disease but in some people, the illness can carry on months after infection. This is known as long COVID.
If you need more information on symptoms visit NHS 111 Wales.
How do I get the vaccine?
There is no need to call your GP to ask about an appointment. You will receive a letter from your health board about when and where you can get vaccinated.
This will vary depending on where you live in Wales, but it will probably be at a vaccination centre and a few might get it at a school setting.
You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you have COVID-19 symptoms or are:
- waiting for a COVID-19 test result or
- within 12 weeks of having a positive COVID-19 test if you are not in an ‘at risk’ group
- within 4 weeks of having a positive COVID-19 test if you are in an ‘at risk’ group
You or your parents or guardian should call to cancel your vaccine appointment and rearrange another date, when you have recovered.
If you have a brother or sister who lives with you who is still waiting to be invited for the vaccine, and is also 12 to 15 years old, they can come with you to your appointment. It would be helpful if you could let the health board know this before you arrive. They may not be able to vaccinate those outside this age range as these will often be clinics just for 12 to 15 year olds.
For young people under 16 years of age a parent or guardian needs to consent to vaccination. Consent is only needed from one person with parental responsibility.
Under 16s are not automatically presumed to be legally competent to make decisions about their healthcare. This includes whether they should be given the COVID-19 vaccine.
Where there is disagreement between parents and young people, we follow the law. This includes following best practice on respecting children’s rights and parental responsibility.
This might include individual clinical discussions and documentation of Gillick competence, as appropriate. This is standard practice in other vaccine administration.