The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. 1 dose is being offered to children aged 12 to 15 to give them the best protection against COVID-19.
This includes children who turn 12 on the date of vaccination.
Some children are being offered 2 doses of a vaccine if either:
- they live with someone who is more likely to get infections
- they have a condition that means they're at high risk from COVID-19
Find out more about vaccination for children at high risk from COVID-19 on who can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Why children are being offered a COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 is usually mild in most children, but it can make some children unwell. 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine gives good protection against your child getting seriously ill.
Vaccinating children can also help stop the spread of COVID-19 to other people, including within schools.
How and when children will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine
Most children will be given their vaccine at school during school hours. They will be given 1 dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech 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.
All children aged 12 to 15 will be offered a vaccine this autumn.
If your child misses their COVID-19 vaccination, for any reason, they will be offered it again at a later date.
Children who do not go to school, for example if they are home-schooled, will also be offered a vaccine. You will be contacted about when and where your child can get one.
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 they had symptoms, or the date of the positive test if they did not have symptoms.
Other ways to get a COVID-19 vaccine
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.
What happens on the day of vaccination
School immunisation teams will visit your child's school to give the vaccine.
All children will be observed for 15 minutes after having the vaccination. This is in the unlikely event they have a serious reaction to the vaccine.
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.
Immunisation teams 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 safe and 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 to make sure it is safe and effective.
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.
Other vaccines for children
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.
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