Vaccinating children and young people aged 12 to 17 years

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 had a confirmed coronavirus infection should wait 12 weeks from date of test or first symptoms (whichever is earlier) to get the vaccine.

Children and young people 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

Coronavirus in children and young people

For most children and young people, 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 and young people will be very poorly and have to go to hospital.

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 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.

All children and young people aged 16 and 17 years are eligible for a booster dose.

Some children and young people at higher risk from coronavirus are also eligible for additional doses (third primary dose and/or booster doses).

First doses

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:

Second doses

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.

Some children and young people will be offered a second dose from 8 weeks after the first dose.

Aged 16 or 17 years

If you're aged 16 or 17 years you can have your second dose if there's been 12 weeks since your first dose. You can receive your second dose by:

Aged 12 to 15 years

If you’re aged 12 to 15 years, you should now have been invited to get your second dose.

If you were unable to attend your appointment, phone the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week) to book a new appointment.

You can attend a drop-in clinic if you prefer. Check your local health board's website or social media for details of drop-in clinics in your area.

Booster doses

All young people aged 16 or 17 years are eligible for a booster dose.

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 can receive your booster dose by:

Some children and young people aged 12 to 15 years at higher risk from coronavirus are eligible for a booster dose, from 12 weeks after their second dose.

This includes those:

Further information about who is eligible if they share living accommodation with someone who has a weakened immune system

Spring booster dose

Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years with a weakened immune system will also be offered a spring booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The spring booster dose will usually be offered around 6 months (and not before 3 months) since your last dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

NHS Scotland will contact children and young people aged 12 to 17 years who are eligible for a spring booster dose and their parents or carers. Please wait to be contacted.

Vaccination for children and young people at higher 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
  • share living accommodation, on most days, with someone who has a weakened immune system
  • are aged 16 or 17 years who are an unpaid carer or a frontline health or social care worker
List of eligible health conditions
  • cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
  • 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 your spleen, e.g sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
  • epilepsy
  • serious genetic problems

Children and young people with a severely weakened immune system

Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years with a severely weakened immune system are being offered 3 primary doses of the coronavirus vaccine. They are also eligible for a booster dose to help improve protection.

More information about third primary doses

You will be contacted by NHS Scotland with vaccination appointment details. Some children and young people 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 and young people 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.

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.

Consent

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

Vaccine safety

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.

Advice on coronavirus vaccination for children and young people aged 12 to 17 years

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 Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provide advice about the vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17.

The latest advice relates to:

Further information

Information is available in other languages and formats.

Last updated:
23 May 2022