Children and Young People Vaccination Programme

Last updated: 30 September 2021, 10:28 am

Young boy and girl smilingThis autumn all young people aged 12 to 15 years are being offered the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a very infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Very few healthy children and young people with COVID-19 infection go on to have severe disease.

Why you should have your child vaccinated

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) all agree that while COVID-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and 1 dose of the vaccine will provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.

Vaccinating 12 to 15 year olds should also help to reduce the need for young people to have time-off school and reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 within schools.

The COVID-19 secondary schools vaccine programme should therefore provide protection to young people and reduce the disruption to face to face education. This will help to keep young people emotionally well and happier and this was an important consideration for the CMOs.

Common side effects

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term and not everyone gets them. The very common side effects should only last a day or 2.

Very common side effects in the first day or 2 include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection
  • feeling tired
  • headache, aches and chills
  • young people may also have flu-like symptoms with episodes of shivering and shaking for a day or 2

We suggest that young people should rest and take paracetamol (following the dose advice in the packaging) to help make them feel better.

Very rare serious side effects

Worldwide, there have been recent, very rare cases of inflammation of the heart called myocarditis or pericarditis reported after COVID-19 vaccines. Most of these people felt better following rest and simple treatments.

These cases have been seen mostly in younger males and mainly occurred within a few days of the second dose; myocarditis is extremely rare after the first dose of the vaccine.

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