Vaccinations for 12-15 year olds
Frequently Asked Questions
Who will be offered COVID-19 vaccinations?
Most 12–15-year-olds will be offered a single dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
12–15-year-olds in the following groups will be offered two doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine:
- those with severe neuro-disabilities
- those with immunosuppression*
- those with Down Syndrome
- those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities, or on GP the learning disability register
- haematological malignancy
- sickle cell disease
- type 1 diabetes
- congenital heart disease
- other health conditions as described by JCVI.
- 12–17-year-olds who are household contacts of people of any age who are immunosuppressed
What ingredients are in the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine?
None of the vaccines contain eggs, gelatine, latex, or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys. The vaccine is suitable for people of all faiths.
Is the Coronavirus vaccine safe?
The vaccines have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Any vaccine that is approved must go through all the safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety. Serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare.
I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
You can have the vaccine 28 days after you had a positive test for COVID-19 or 28 days after your symptoms started, so you may need to wait.
Can I catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine as it does not contain the virus, but it is possible to have caught COVID-19 and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment.
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in your normal sense of taste or smell
- If you have the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a PCR test.
How does the vaccine work?
The vaccine works by making a protein from the virus that is important for creating protection.
The protein works in the same way they do for other vaccines by stimulating the immune system to make antibodies and cells to fight the infection.
Does the vaccine have any side effects?
Yes, it does have some side effects, but they don’t usually last long. Some people feel shivery a little tired and achy the day after their vaccine- these are not uncommon. Very occasionally people feel a hotness in the heart.
Will the vaccine protect me?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up some protection from the vaccine. You should get good protection from the first dose, having the second dose should give you longer lasting protection against the virus. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.
Is protection instant after I’ve been vaccinated?
Protection from any vaccine takes time to build up. In general, the older you are the longer it takes. It will take at least two weeks in younger people and at least three weeks in older people before you can expect to have a good antibody response. Vaccines offer important protection to reduce risk, but they do not make you invincible. No vaccine offers 100% protection against any disease.
What about a second vaccine?
JCVI will provide further advice regarding details of second doses for this group once more data has been analysed. This is expected in the spring for 12–15-year-olds.
Will the vaccine be needed every year for children?
At the moment this is unknown but thought to be unlikely.
What about other routine childhood vaccinations?
JCVI has stressed the importance of ensuring that other routine immunisations for children and young people are maintained given the benefits they offer. National immunisation programmes are proven to be highly effective at preventing disease, reducing serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and measles.
My child is autistic and afraid of the vaccine, will it affect their autism?
No. Autistic children aged 12-15 are eligible for both doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and all 12-15 year olds will now start to be invited too. In June, the UK’s medicine regulator, the MHRA, announced the Pfizer vaccine is also safe and effective for children aged 12-15.
12-15 year olds will start to be invited to book a vaccine appointment over the next few weeks. If you need support with booking an appointment for an autistic child, you should contact your GP.
It is of course still down to individuals and their families to reach an informed choice as to whether they have the vaccine, this change simply gives every autistic child the choice of doing so.