Young people and COVID-19 vaccination

The national Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations has recommended young people are vaccinated against COVID-19 – see JCVI guidance therefore the NHS has now invited all young people aged 16 and 17 to receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. 

At this time, JCVI advises that 16 and 17-year- olds should be offered a first dose only, which will be of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. More than 360,000 have already received their first dose. 

 The first dose has been shown to provide 80% protection against hospitalisation and reduce the spread of the virus among the community therefore reducing the risk of passing it to a more vulnerable person. Protection against illness could be even higher as younger people respond better to vaccines and some will already have had the COVID-19 infection, meaning they will have an even better response to a first dose.

A second dose is expected to be offered later to increase the level of protection and contribute towards longer-term protection.   Those aged 16-17 who are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 symptoms will continue to be recommended offered two doses. 

Parental consent is not required to be vaccinated. Young people also do not have to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to be vaccinated, although it will make the process easier so they should bring this with them if they can.

Is it safe for use in children and young people?

The JCVI has reviewed extensive clinical evidence for the safety of giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children and young people in the eligible groups and has determined it to be safe and effective. The JCVI has also determined that the benefit of vaccinating children in these groups outweighs any of the possible risks.

As well as 16 and17-year-olds, the following groups of children and young people are also eligible:

Those 12-15-year-olds ‘at risk’ with the underlying health conditions specified below: 

  • Severe neuro-disabilities,  
  • Down’s Syndrome,  
    • underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, and  
    • those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register 
  • Children aged 12 years and older without underlying medical conditions who are household contacts of individuals (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed.