Vaccinations for children and young people
Children and young people can now be vaccinated through a range of settings; schools, community pharmacies, hospital hubs and GP-led sites.
On the day of the appointment, wear practical clothing so it’s easy to get to the top of your arm.
If you have a fear of needles or feel anxious, let the person giving your vaccine know. They will be understanding and support you.
You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you have COVID symptoms or are:
- waiting for a COVID-19 test result or
- within 12 weeks of having a positive COVID-19 test
You or your parents or carers should call to cancel and wait until you have recovered to have the vaccine.
Can I decide for myself if I want the vaccine?
People aged 16 and over are able to consent for their own medical treatment. Children under the age of 16 can consent to their own treatment if they're believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what's involved in their treatment. This is known as being Gillick competent.
Otherwise, someone with parental responsibility can consent for you.
This could be:
- your parent
- your legally appointed guardian
- a person with a residence order concerning you
- a local authority designated to care for you
- a local authority or person with an emergency protection order for you
Why are children and young people aged 5-15 being offered the COVID-19 vaccine?
The NHS is now offering the COVID-19 vaccine to children and young people aged 5-15. The vaccinations for children aged 5-11 will start in April 2022.
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 and minimising the disruption of education.
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reported that the benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms in this age group, but could not be recommended on health grounds alone.
Will the vaccine protect younger people?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up some protection after having the vaccine.
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.
The vaccine given to children and young people is the Pfizer vaccine. There is a smaller dose for children aged 5-11.
Tests have shown the vaccine is safe and effective. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the UK’s independent medicines regulator for use from age 12. Many countries around the world have already been vaccinating children and young people and it has proved safe and effective.
Are children at risk from COVID-19 infection?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease that affects your breathing. Very few children and young people with COVID infection go on to have severe disease, but the illness can carry on months after infection, known as long COVID.
Coronavirus can affect anyone. Some children and young people are at greater risk. This includes those who already live with severe health conditions.
The JCVI also recommended that some children and young people with weakened immune systems should be added to the vaccination programme. This was because they were at higher risk of serious illness from COVID.
For most children and young people COVID is a mild illness. Symptoms may last for no longer than 2 to 3 weeks.
If you need more information on symptoms visit: NHS 111 Wales.
Are there side effects or potential risks?
After having the vaccine:
- your arm might feel heavy or sore
- your body might ache
- you might feel like you have a cold or the flu
- you might have a headache
- you might feel tired
- you might feel very hot or very cold
If you feel unwell, you can rest and ask your parent or carer to give you some painkillers like paracetamol. You should feel better in a few days.
A very small number of people may get:
- problems with their heart (myocarditis) – this can feel like your heart is beating in a different way than usual
- pain in their chest (pericarditis)
- breathing problems
If you feel unwell after vaccination you can use NHS 111 if you are not sure what help you need. They will tell you what to do. If it is an emergency, they will be able to send an ambulance.
If you feel unwell after your vaccine, your parent or carers can report it using the yellow card website. This helps find out how different people feel after the vaccine and makes sure the vaccine keeps people safe.