Vaccination programme for children and young people

Last update: 7 January 2022 2:46 pm

Getting the vaccine will help to protect children and young people against COVID-19. Whilst most children usually have mild illness, they can pass on their infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with. Getting vaccinated will also help to reduce the chance of disruption to their education from Covid-19. This is an important decision and further information is supplied with this letter to help children and their parents to make an informed decision.

The information is also available online at

The NHS leaflets provide more information for parents and children on the vaccine, including how it works and what to expect after COVID-19 vaccination. There are accessible versions of the consent form and leaflets available for those with a learning disability or who live with autism. There are braille and British Sign Language (BSL) videos to order or download. Translations will also be available.

The COVID-19 vaccinations are being given from the beginning of the autumn term. Your local SAIS will be in touch to arrange a date.

The programme will be delivered by an NHS commissioned SAIS team which may include nurses, healthcare support workers, administrative staff, and other associated professionals who specialise in the delivery of school age vaccinations.

The team will administer the vaccination according to nationally agreed standards. Staff are appropriately qualified, trained (including in safeguarding) and experienced in vaccinating children and young people. Staff administering the vaccine will be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Through vaccination sites available on the National Booking Service and walk-in sites, it will be provided by trained staff including local NHS settings.

The consent forms will be collected from the school by the SAIS team. This process may happen electronically in some areas. SAIS teams will supply paper versions for families who cannot access the digital or email versions. The team will then have a list of all children for whom consent has been received in advance of the immunisation session.

All parents or those with parental responsibility are asked for consent and will usually make this decision, jointly with their children.

The information leaflet is addressed to the child (as the recipient of the vaccine) and encourages them to discuss the decision about the vaccine with their parents.

In secondary schools, some older children may be sufficiently mature to provide their own consent. This sometimes occurs if a parent has not returned a consent form but the child still wishes to have the vaccine on the day of the session. Every effort will be made to contact the parent to seek their verbal consent. The school has no role in this process.

This is a well established process which is used in other school-based vaccination programmes.

Whilst schools may host immunisation services, they are not responsible for securing parental or child consent, for assessing Gillick competence or mediating between parents and children who may disagree about whether or not to consent.

This is the role of registered nurses in the SAIS, who have extensive experience and the expertise to handle these issues and are professionally accountable for their decisions. Legal accountability for offering COVID-19 vaccines to children and young people sits with the SAIS and not with the school.

Yes. The vaccination is not mandatory. Parents will be asked to give their consent for the vaccination. Children may express a wish to have the vaccine and may have the capacity to provide informed consent themselves.

Parents should be encouraged to speak to their children ahead of time so that there is agreement on consent by the vaccination session.

Young people who understand fully what is involved in a proposed procedure, such as vaccination, can legally give consent. This is known as ‘Gillick competence’.

If no consent from a parent has been received, but the child wants to be vaccinated and is judged to be Gillick competent by the healthcare professional, the child can still be vaccinated. In this case, the healthcare professional will make every effort to contact a parent to check before they proceed.

If a parent objects to their child being vaccinated but the child wants to be vaccinated and is judged to be Gillick competent, the healthcare professional will try to reach agreement between the parent and child. However, the parent cannot overrule the decision of a Gillick competent child.

Trained professionals in the SAIS team, with expertise in vaccinating children will speak to the child. The SAIS team will assess the individual child’s capacity to self-consent (Gillick competence) and be responsible for deciding the appropriateness of administering the vaccine.

You can read about Gillick competence on page 8 of chapter 2 of the Green Book on immunisation.

This is a well-established process which is used in other school-based vaccination programmes.

Schools can reassure parents that if a child does not have parental consent and does not want to get the vaccine they will not receive it. This will follow usual practice, even if the child is attending school on the day of vaccination.

Schools should also remind parents that school attendance is mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age and that being in school is the best thing for their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

If parents have questions about whether to consent to their child getting the vaccine, schools can direct them to the local SAIS provider. Parents will be provided with contact details for the SAIS provider with the consent form.

ll schools’ immunisation services are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Schools should work with their SAIS provider teams as usual, who will provide appropriate information resources and parental consent forms.

The primary aims of the schools vaccination programme are to provide individual protection to children and to reduce disruption to education from COVID-19. As the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) consider education one of the most important drivers of improved public and mental health, reducing disruption to education will also reduce public and mental health harm.

We know that some schools are receiving campaign letters and emails with misinformation about the vaccine programme and would like advice on how to handle protests in the event they were to take place at school.

The SAIS team will have advice from the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Programme about running this programme securely. Schools are advised to get in touch with the SAIS team at the first opportunity to understand what security planning they have in place, and what if any actions they recommend you carry out ahead of vaccinations in your school.

Schools should already have a security policy, based on a security risk assessment. This process is covered in published guidance on school and college security.

In the event of a protest or disruptive activity outside a school, or if schools know a protest is planned, they should alert the SAIS provider, Local Authority and police contacts to discuss the best way to manage the situation.

We are aware some schools have received letters or emails which feature false or misleading information (misinformation) about the safety, efficacy and purpose of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Headteachers and teachers are advised:

  1. Not to engage directly: misinformation narratives and tactics flourish when they are responded to.
  2. Acknowledge receipt: if a response is needed, simply acknowledge receipt of concerns.
  3. If there is a need to, refer to the latest scientific guidance on the issue. Some helpful links to trusted sources include:

SAIS providers will vaccinate all children aged 12 years and over on the day of the school visit. Young people in year 7 who are aged 12 years and have consented will be identified by SAIS and vaccinated at the same session, alongside pupils in years 8 onwards.

A follow-up offer will be made to any children who miss the first vaccination in their school. This will help to ensure that the following pupils can access the vaccine:

  • those turning 12 years after the session
  • those who were absent from school on the day
  • those who have recently had a COVID-19 infection
  • those who subsequently change their minds or take longer to reach a decision

It is anticipated that this will be delivered outside of school settings to minimise any further disruption to education and other immunisation programmes.

16 and 17 year olds are already being offered a vaccination through the adult vaccination system. The NHS will contact 16 and 17 year olds when it’s their turn to get the vaccine, and they will be invited to a local NHS service such as a GP surgery. Additionally, some walk-in COVID-19 vaccination sites are offering the vaccine to people aged 16 and 17 years.

Some SAIS providers may have the capacity to offer the vaccination to 16 and 17 year olds in school who have not yet taken up their first dose. Your SAIS provider will let you know if they are able to offer this.

For any children absent on the vaccination day, there will be catch-up arrangements in place that the SAIS provider team will be able to share with the school.

If a child is unwell on the day, the SAIS provider team will decide whether to proceed with vaccination or not.

All questions on the suitability of the vaccine for individual children should be directed to the NHS SAIS provider team delivering the vaccinations.

For any children who want to be vaccinated but are unable for health or other reasons to have the vaccine on the day, there will be catch-up arrangements in place that the SAIS provider team will be able to share with the school.

Serious allergic reactions to vaccination are very rare but tend to happen within a few minutes of the injection. SAIS teams are all trained to spot and manage allergic reactions and so all children will be observed for 15 minutes.

All SAIS providers will bring the necessary equipment to treat an allergic reaction.

Children with allergies to common food items are not at higher risk of these serious allergies.

If the SAIS provider team is still on site, seek advice directly from them. If the SAIS provider team has left the site, manage the situation according to existing policies for pupil sickness in school. Contact the SAIS provider team to ensure they are aware and can report any event related to the timing of administration of the vaccine.

See NHS.UK for further information.

We expect most vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds to happen at school during school hours although this might be different for a small number of schools.

In schools where facilities are not available on site, the local NHS will make arrangements to ensure that pupils can access vaccination in a convenient alternative location, as soon as possible.

All children in the eligible age group who do not attend school, for example those who are home educated or living in secure accommodation should be offered the vaccine.

The SAIS provider will have plans in place to offer vaccination to these children.

Yes. SAIS providers are commissioned to vaccinate children in special schools.


Yes if the site is offering walk-in appointments to 12-15 year olds.  You can find the sites offering this service on the NHS website.

Not as part of the schools’ programme. All school staff will already have been offered vaccination as part of the adult programme.

They should make sure that they have had their 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. If they have not yet been vaccinated, they can still make an appointment with their GP or walk in centre or call 119.

See NHS.UK for further information.

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