The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. 2 doses are being offered to children aged 12 to 15 to give them the best protection against COVID-19.
There is information about vaccination for children at high risk on who can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Why children are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 is usually mild in most children, but it can make some children unwell.
1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine gives good protection against your child getting seriously ill. But 2 doses gives stronger and longer-lasting protection.
Vaccinating children can also help stop the spread of COVID-19 to other people, including within schools.
When children will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine
Children can get a 1st dose of the vaccine from the day they turn 12.
Most children can get a 2nd dose from 12 weeks after they had their 1st dose.
If your child has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not at high risk from COVID-19, they need to wait 12 weeks before they can have a COVID-19 vaccine.
This starts from the date of their positive PCR test.
How children can get the COVID-19 vaccine
Most children aged 12 to 15 can:
- get the vaccine at school
- book their vaccination appointments online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
- find a walk-in vaccination site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
Getting the vaccine at school
Most children will be offered a 1st and 2nd dose of the vaccine at school during school hours.
2nd doses will be offered in schools from 10 January 2022. Children who have not yet had a vaccine can get their 1st dose during these vaccination sessions.
School immunisation teams will visit your child's school to give the vaccine.
As a parent or guardian you will get a letter or email with information about when the vaccine will be offered, and you'll be asked to give consent.
If your child misses their COVID-19 vaccination, for any reason, they will be offered it again at a later date.
Depending on your child's age, they may be offered another vaccine at school on the same day, such as the:
These are different vaccines and as a parent or guardian you will be asked to give consent for each vaccine.
Booking vaccination appointments online
You can book your child's 1st dose online from the day they turn 12.
You can usually book their 2nd dose from 24 hours after they had their 1st dose.
You'll be offered appointment dates from 12 weeks after their 1st dose.
Getting the vaccine at a walk-in vaccination site
Your child can get a 1st dose at a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site from the day they turn 12.
They can get a 2nd dose if it's been 12 weeks since their 1st dose.
Which COVID-19 vaccine will children get?
Children will be given the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for both doses.
You can read the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine patient information leaflet on GOV.UK.
What happens after the vaccination
If your child has allergies, they will be observed for 15 minutes after having the vaccine. This is in the unlikely event they have a serious reaction to the vaccine.
If your child has allergies or had a reaction after a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, tell the staff at the vaccination centre or pharmacy before they are vaccinated.
Research has found it's very rare to have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
School immunisation teams and staff at vaccination centres and pharmacies are trained to deal with reactions and treat them immediately.
COVID-19 vaccine safety
Millions of children around the world have had a COVID-19 vaccine.
The independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is very effective for children aged 12 to 15.
This followed an extensive review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine in this age group.
The vaccine continues to be closely monitored.
Common side effects
Like all medicines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them.
Most side effects are mild and should only last 1 or 2 days, such as:
- a sore arm from the injection
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
- flu-like symptoms including shivering (chills)
Children should rest and you can give them paracetamol to help make them feel better.
Very rare side effects
There have been extremely rare reports of inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) after COVID-19 vaccination. Most people who had this recovered following rest and simple treatments.
Go to A&E or call 999 if your child has any of these symptoms within a few days of being vaccinated:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart (palpitations)
COVID-19 vaccine ingredients
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does not contain egg or animal products.
Video: COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15
This video answers some common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15.
Media review due: 17 November 2024