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.

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

The Joint Committee of 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.

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.

How many doses will children and young people aged 12 to 17 years be offered?

Two doses of the vaccine (eight weeks apart) are recommended for:

  • those who are at increased risk from coronavirus due to underlying health conditions
  • those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed
  • those aged 16 or 17 years who are an unpaid carer, a frontline health or social care worker or are within three months of their 18th birthday

All other children and young people aged 12 to 17 years will be offered a first dose of the vaccine. The timing of a second dose will be confirmed later.

Some children and young people are eligible for a third dose or a booster dose.

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 two to three 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.

If you have recently tested positive for coronavirus, even if you have no symptoms, you should wait until 4 weeks after the date you were tested to get the vaccine.

Vaccination for children and young people at increased risk

Some children and young people are at increased risk including those living with certain conditions. If your child or young person is at increased risk, they are eligible for two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

List of eligible health conditions
  • diabetes
  • 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
  • epilepsy
  • 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.

Vaccine invitations

All children and young people aged 12 to 15 will receive a letter inviting them to attend their vaccination appointment.

Young people aged 16 and 17 should have already received an invitation letter. If you have not received an invitation letter you can register online.

Children and young people aged 12 to 17 can attend open access services to receive their vaccine.

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.

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.

Further information

The leaflet is available in other languages and formats.