NHS Scotland is offering the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to all children and young people aged 12 to 17 years. They will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years, who have recently tested positive for coronavirus, should wait 12 weeks after the date they were tested to get the vaccine (first or second dose).
However, if you're aged 12 to 17 and at increased risk, you can have your coronavirus vaccine from 4 weeks after coronavirus infection.
Advice on coronavirus vaccination for children and young people aged 12 to 17 years
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provided advice about the vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 with follow-up advice for children aged 12 to 15 and young people aged 16 to 17. The latest JCVI advice provides further recommendations for children aged 12 to 15.
The UK Chief Medical Officers (CMO's) recommend the coronavirus vaccine on public health grounds, given consideration of impacts such as education and mental health. The joint statement from the UK CMO's provides advice on the universal vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 15 years against coronavirus.
Coronavirus in children and young people
For most children and young people, coronavirus is usually a milder illness that rarely leads to complications. For a very few the symptoms may last for longer than the usual 2 to 3 weeks.
Getting the vaccine will help to protect children and young people against coronavirus. Although most children and young people usually have mild illness, they can pass on their infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with.
Even if children and young people have already had coronavirus, they could still get it again. The vaccine will reduce their risk of getting coronavirus. If they do get it again, the vaccine can reduce how serious their symptoms will be.
How many doses will children and young people aged 12 to 17 receive?
NHS Scotland is offering 2 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to all children and young people aged 12 to 17 years. The second dose will be offered from 12 weeks after the first dose.
Some children and young people aged 12 to 17 years are also eligible for a booster dose.
Children and young people aged 12 to 17 should have already received an invitation letter to come for their first dose. If you've not received a letter:
Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years will be offered a second dose of the vaccine from 12 weeks after the first dose.
If you're aged 16 or 17 years you can have your second dose now if it's 12 weeks since your first dose.
You can receive your second dose by:
Children and young people aged 12 to 15 years have been sent second dose invitation letters. They can also attend drop-in clinics.
You should check your local health board's website or social media to see if drop-in clinics are available.
All young people aged 16 or 17 years are eligible for a booster dose.
From late January, if you’re aged 16 or 17 years and have had your first and second doses, you can get your booster dose from 12 weeks after your second dose. You'll be contacted by text message or letter.
Some children and young people aged 12 to 15 years at increased risk from coronavirus are eligible for a booster dose, from 12 weeks after their second dose.
This includes those:
- who are at increased risk from coronavirus due to underlying health conditions
- who live with someone with a weakened immune system
- with a severely weakened immune system who have had a third primary dose
NHS Scotland will contact children and young people aged 12 to 15 years who are eligible for a booster dose and their parents or carers. Please wait to be contacted.
Vaccination for children and young people at increased risk
Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years who are at increased risk from coronavirus will be offered 2 doses of the vaccine, given 8 weeks apart.
This includes those who:
- are at increased risk from coronavirus due to underlying health conditions
- live with someone with a severely weakened immune system
- are aged 16 or 17 years who are an unpaid carer or a frontline health or social care worker
Some children and young people in these groups are eligible for a third primary dose and/or a booster dose.
List of eligible health conditions
- serious heart problems
- chest complaint or breathing difficulties including poorly controlled asthma
- kidney, liver or a gut disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (steroid medication, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
- an organ transplant
- a neurodisability or neuromuscular condition
- a severe or profound learning disability
- Down’s syndrome
- a problem with your spleen, e.g sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
- cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
- serious genetic problems
You will be contacted by NHS Scotland with your child's vaccination appointment details. Some children under specialist care will be contacted directly by their healthcare professional and others will receive a vaccination invitation letter.
Local health boards aim to vaccinate those who cannot attend a clinic in their own home or a care setting. Local health boards will contact the parents or carers of these children directly to organise this.
Rearranging your appointment
You should phone the number on your letter to rearrange your appointment if the time and date does not suit.
You can reschedule the date and time of your appointment if it does not suit, but we are encouraging people to keep their appointment time if possible.
If you were contacted by your specialist, you should phone them to rearrange your appointment.
If your child or young person’s level of care needs or disability needs mean they cannot attend a clinic, phone the number on their invitation letter.
It's important for children and young people and their parents or carers to discuss the information in this leaflet and come to a decision together.
Parents and carers are invited to accompany their children to their vaccine appointment and will have the opportunity to ask questions, and to discuss the benefits and risks of the vaccine.
We recommend you get agreement from your parent or carer but it is not always necessary.
More about consent for young people using NHS services
NHS Scotland only use vaccines that meet the required standards of safety and effectiveness. All medicines, including vaccines, are tested for safety and effectiveness before they’re allowed to be used. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has to assess all the data and also ensure a vaccine works and that all the necessary trials and checks have been completed.
The MHRA will only approve a vaccine for supply in the UK if the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met. The safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines continue to be checked while in use.
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