Covid: Will children get the vaccine and will I need a booster?

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

image source, Getty Images

Healthy children aged 12-15 should be given one Covid jab, the UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have recommended.

A decision on booster jabs is expected soon.

Who’s being vaccinated at the moment?

The vaccine is also available for over-12s with underlying health conditions, or those who live with others at high risk – about 10% of children in this age group.

Will all children be vaccinated?

The UK’s CMOs now say vaccinating healthy over-12s would help stop school disruption, which could happen if Covid keeps spreading during the winter.

It will now be up to ministers to decide whether to go ahead.

There is no vaccine currently approved for use in the under-12s in the UK

Will I get a booster jab?

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said they would be contacted “as soon as possible” to arrange an appointment.

He said a separate booster programme for others in the most at-risk groups was still planned for September.

It suggested a booster jab could be offered alongside the flu vaccine.

However an exact start date has not yet been set, and we don’t know whether the booster scheme will be extended to all adults.

The scientist behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert, has described offering a third booster dose to millions of people as a “complex decision” – with vaccines still providing strong protection.

The UK medicines watchdog has approved both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines for use as booster jabs.

How do I get a vaccine?

In England adults and those within three months of turning 18 can book a jab online or by calling 119. You can also visit a walk-in clinic without an appointment.

All 16 and 17-year-olds are being invited to make an appointment through their GP.

In Northern Ireland, you can book online or call 0300 200 7813. Walk-in centres are open to older teenagers.

How soon should I get my second jab?

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the recommended gap is eight weeks.

image source, Getty Images

Which vaccine will I get?

Under-18s are currently being offered Pfizer, although the Moderna vaccine has also been authorised for use in children in the UK.

Is vaccination compulsory?

It’s not compulsory, although the government wants everyone who can have the vaccine to get it.

Some jobs also require staff members to have the jab.

image source, Getty Images

What about side effects?

The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.

They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.

media captionWhy it is normal for some people to experience short-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccines

The clots are extremely rare. There have been 417 reported cases and 72 deaths after 24.8 million first doses and 23.9 million second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK.

Separately, a very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

You should discuss any existing serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.

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