Vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 years

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advise that all children aged 5 to 11 are offered the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

NHS Scotland will invite all eligible children for vaccination. Please wait to be contacted.

NHS Scotland is offering 2 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to all children aged 5 to 11 years.

Children aged 5 to 11 will be offered a second dose of the vaccine from 12 weeks after their first dose.

Some children aged 5 to 11 years will be offered their second dose of the vaccine 8 weeks after their first dose, if they:

List of health conditions which put children aged 5 to 11 years at higher risk from coronavirus
  • diabetes
  • serious heart conditions
  • 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 the spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or removal of the spleen
  • epilepsy
  • serious genetic conditions
  • cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
  • other serious medical conditions as advised by a doctor or specialist

Invitations to vaccination appointments

Children may be invited to receive the vaccine in different ways depending on where they live. This could mean parents or carers phoning the national vaccination helpline to make an appointment, or receiving an invitation letter to attend an appointment.

You can find out how children are being invited for vaccination appointments in their local area online or by phoning the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013.

If your child’s appointment date or time is not suitable, you can rearrange it by phoning the number on your child’s invitation letter.

Coronavirus in children

For most children, coronavirus is usually a mild illness that rarely leads to complications. For a very few the symptoms may last for longer than the usual 2 to 3 weeks. A few children will be very poorly and have to go to hospital.

Which vaccine will my child be offered?

Children aged 5 to 11 years will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. They'll be given a child-sized dose. A child-sized dose is one third of the dose offered to adults/adolescents (12 years and over).

Children aged 11 years old will receive the child-sized dose of the vaccine for their first and second doses, even if they turn 12 years old before their second dose is due.

How many doses will children aged 5 to 11 be offered?

Children aged 5 to 11 years will be offered 2 doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

A third primary dose is also being offered to children aged 5 to 11 years with a severely weakened immune system. The third primary dose will be offered from 8 weeks after the second dose.

My child has already had coronavirus, can they get the vaccine?

Even if your child has already had coronavirus, they could still get it again. The vaccine will reduce the risk of your child getting coronavirus. If they do get it again, the vaccine can reduce how serious their symptoms will be.

If your child has recently had a confirmed coronavirus infection, they should wait 12 weeks from date of test or first symptoms (whichever is earlier) to get the vaccine.

Your child should wait 4 weeks from date of test or first symptoms (whichever is earlier) to get the vaccine if:

  • they're at higher risk from coronavirus due to an underlying health condition
  • they share living accommodation, on most days, with someone who has a weakened immune system

Will the vaccine offer good protection for my child?

Getting the vaccine will help to protect children against coronavirus. Although most children usually have mild illness, they can pass on their infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with.

Serious illness from coronavirus is rare in this age group. Children are even less likely to become seriously ill with coronavirus if they're vaccinated.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective. Some children may still get coronavirus after being vaccinated, but the illness should be less severe.

It may take a few weeks to build up some protection from the vaccine. The first dose should give good protection. Having the second dose should give longer-lasting protection against the virus.

Are there any reasons my child should not get the vaccine?

The vaccine should not be given to:

  • children who have had a confirmed severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any of the ingredients in the vaccine
  • those who have had a confirmed severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Children with a history of serious allergic reaction to food, an identified drug or vaccine, or an insect sting can get the coronavirus vaccine, as long as they are not known to be allergic to any ingredient of the vaccine.

It’s important that you tell the person giving your child the vaccine if they’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction.

The vaccine does not contain any animal products or egg.

What if my child is ill on the day?

Your child should still go for their coronavirus vaccine if they have a minor illness without a fever. If your child feels very unwell, their vaccine may be postponed until they have fully recovered.

What if I feel my child cannot attend a vaccination centre?

If you feel your child cannot attend a vaccination centre for physical or emotional reasons, you can discuss their needs with your local health board. Your child may be able to get additional support to attend, or be vaccinated at home.

You can phone the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week) for further information. The helpline will give you the number of your local vaccination team or take your number so they can get in touch with you.

How can I prepare my child for their coronavirus vaccine?

The coronavirus vaccine will be given as an injection, normally in the upper arm.

The needles used are small and your child should only feel a tiny pinprick.

Do

  • talk to your child about what will happen during their vaccination appointment
  • make sure your child wears something that makes it easy to access the upper arm
  • let the person giving the vaccine know if you or your child are feeling nervous – they'll be very understanding and can provide support

Common side effects

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short term, and not everyone gets them.

With the vaccine used for children aged 5 to 11 years, side effects are more common with the second dose.

Read further information about common side effects

Read the patient information leaflet for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (child-sized dose)

Vaccine safety

NHS Scotland will only use a vaccine if it meets the required standards of safety and effectiveness.

Read further information about vaccine safety

Last updated:
09 June 2022