Vaccinations for under 18s
On 4 August 2021, The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) updated their guidance on eligibility for COVID vaccination.
JCVI now advises that the vaccine should be offered to:
- 16 and 17-year-olds
- children aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious COVID-19
- children aged 12 years and over who live with someone with a suppressed immune system
Eligibility Criteria for clinically vulnerable 12-15 year olds
Government advisers are reviewing evidence on the risk of COVID-19 in children and young people to ensure that decisions about eligibility are based on the most complete and up to date evidence available.
Current advice is that the conditions which mean that children are considered at increased risk for serious COVID-19 disease are:
- severe neuro-disabilities
- Down’s syndrome
- underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression
- those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register
The JCVI review may result in some additions to this list.
Which vaccine will be offered?
Eligible children will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
This is the only vaccine that has been approved for use in children in the UK. The medicines and safety regulator has given a license for the vaccine to be used in the over 12s.
Where to get the vaccination
Young people with three months of turning 18 can now book their vaccine appointment online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119.
People aged 16 and 17, and children aged 12 to 15 who are eligible, will be contacted by a local NHS service such as a GP surgery to book their vaccination appointments.
Across NCL, some pop-up clinics and PCN sites have already begun to offer vaccinations to 16 and 17-year-olds.
People aged 16-17 years can also find a nearby walk-in clinic via the national grab a jab website. A list of North Central London walk-in clinics currently offering vaccinations to 16 and 17-year-olds can also be found on the CCG website. NCL CCG will continue to add to this list - and keep the grab a jab site up to date - as more sites become available.
How do we know that the vaccine is safe for children?
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorised for use in people aged 12 years and over in the UK. This follows evidence from a clinical trial where around 1,000 children aged 12 to 15 years received 2 doses of the vaccine. Many other countries have already started routinely vaccinating 12-15-year-olds, including the USA, Israel and Japan. Over ten million 12-17-year-olds have now been vaccinated in the US with no safety concerns being raised.
Short-lived mild side effects including a sore arm and fever are common in this age group. There are emerging reports from the UK and other countries of rare but serious adverse events, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) in younger adults. These reports are being closely evaluated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and JCVI. The MHRA publish weekly reports on side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.
All medical treatments have potential harms as well as potential benefits, and we need to weigh these against each other. The UK has taken a relatively cautious approach to vaccinating children but for those children who are most vulnerable, the serious risks of COVID-19 outweigh the risks of any possible side effects from the vaccine.
- Read a simple text leaflet about COVID-19 vaccines for children and young people
- Read a leaflet for children and young people on what to expect after your COVID-19 vaccine