Covid vaccine: What you need to know about children getting vaccinated


Parents have had concerns about the prospects of children being vaccinated (Picture: AP)

With children returning to school for the autumn term, there are concerns that another lockdown is imminent.

Last year, Scotland was the first to introduce a temporary lockdown following a surge in rising coronavirus cases. This was followed by England going into a second lockdown from November 2020.

However, following the vaccine roll-out in the UK, hopes are high that we won’t see another Christmas indoors.

And, despite the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being approved for children between 12 and 15 in the UK, many parents are still concerned about the potential side effects.

Read on to find answers to some of the most popular questions about children being vaccinated.

Is the Covid vaccine effective and safe for children?

Covid vaccines are proven to be safe for children according to experts.

According to Eleanor Riley, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Edinburgh, vaccine trials have proven to be successful among children.

She says: ‘Data from large scale vaccination of 12-18 years olds in the USA suggests that the mRNA vaccines have an excellent safety profile in this age group.’

Pfizer vaccine bottle being held

Currently, the only approved vaccines for children 12 and above are Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna (Picture: PA)

Currently, however, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is the only vaccine approved for use on children under 18.

In March, Pfizer reported that its Covid vaccine trial was 100% effective when tested on children between 12 and 15. And during its first week of rollout, 600,000 children in America were vaccinated with it.

Vaccines for children below the age of 12 have not yet been approved, but trials are currently underway with companies including Moderna and Pfizer.

Will my child be vaccinated at school and when will they be vaccinated?

England’s chief medical officer Chris Witty has said it is likely the country will go ahead with approving children receiving Covid vaccines soon.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said that vaccine rollout preparations were underway to ensure the NHS was ready to offer coronavirus jabs to all 12 to 15-year-olds in England from September.

Currently, children aged 16 and 17 are able to get vaccinated if they decide to. They also do not require parental consent.

However, only roughly 200,000 children from 12 to 15 are eligible for the vaccine.

Children wear masks at school

The official date for vaccine rollouts for kids aged 12 to 15 has not yet been announced (Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty)

This is because currently, only clinically vulnerable children within that age bracket, or those who live with vulnerable adults, are eligible to get the Covid vaccine.

The illnesses currently deemed as vulnerable for children by The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) include:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Chronic heart conditions
  • Chronic neurological disease
  • Chronic kidney, liver or digestive system conditions
  • Asplenia
  • Genetic abmormalities (such as mitochondrial disease and choromosonal abnormalities)
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Immunosuppression (such as those ungergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy)

The official date for all children, who have been given consent, to be vaccinated has not yet been announced. However, it could be just weeks away.

What are the benefits of children getting the vaccine?

Aside from the danger that Covid could pose to unvaccinated children, it would also protect vulnerable adults living with children.

It also helps to boost immunity to Covid within the UK population, hopefully leading to a decline in the virus’ strength and damage it could cause.

And while the number of younger children being hospitalised due to Covid is significantly lower than the adult figures, there are still cases.

16 year old festival goer getting a vaccine jab at a walk-in Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Reading Festival

While older age groups were previously seeing a rise in Covid cases, the vaccine rollout for those age groups has helped ease pressure on the NHS (Picture: PA)

There potentially could be a rise in Covid cases as schools have now returned, which was also seen last year.

While older age groups previously saw a rise in cases and hospitalisations, these are now more manageable due to the vaccine compared to last year’s wave.

Schools will also face fewer disruptions and isolations once children have been vaccinated.

What are the disadvantages of children being vaccinated?

While the vaccine has been deemed to be safe, like all vaccines, there are sometimes a small minority of people who face negative side effects.

There have been extremely rare reports of people getting myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around the heart.

The JCVI is yet to declare whether this risk outweighs the dangers of Covid for children, and is therefore taking a precautionary approach to the vaccine rollout.

Therefore, on Friday, September 3, the body decided against administering all children from 12 to 15 with the vaccine.

The committee still wants to assess the long-term impacts of the heart conditions, and also believes that the benefits of vaccinating young healthy children will be minimal.

How many people have been vaccinated in the UK?

At the time of writing, a total of 91,314,745 UK citizens have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine.

Currently, over 48 million Brits have received their first dose, while over 43 million have received their second dose.

By June 4, 2021, 40 million Brits had received their first dose, and by 11 August, 2021, 40 million people had also received their second Covid vaccine.


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