COVID-19 vaccinations for under 18s

On 13 September 2021, the government announced that one dose of the Pfizer vaccine will now be offered to all 12-15 year olds in England.

This means that one dose of the vaccine is now being offered to all children and young people aged 12 – 17.

In addition, two doses of the vaccine are available for:

  • children aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious COVID-19
  • children aged 12 years and over who live with someone with a suppressed immune system

You can read the guidance for parents about COVID-19 vaccination of 12-15 year olds.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why is the vaccine now being offered to all 12-15 year olds?

COVID-19 vaccination is being offered to 12-15 year olds to protect them from catching and spreading COVID-19 within schools and to family members.

On 13th September 2021, the government accepted the UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommendation that one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to all 12-15 year olds. Vaccinating this age group should help to reduce the need for children to have time off school and to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 within schools this winter.

How will children aged 12-15 get the vaccine?

The vaccine for most children will be given in schools. Like all school-based vaccination programmes, the vaccines will be administered by healthcare staff working closely with the school and following the usual approach to school-based immunisation.

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.

How does the consent process work?

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

An information leaflet for children and young people 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. If this happens, every effort will be made to contact the parent to seek their verbal consent.

Can I refuse to have my child vaccinated?

Yes, the vaccine is not mandatory. Parents will be asked to give their consent for the vaccination and each family is completely free to decide if they want to take up the vaccine offer or not.

Children may express a wish to have the vaccine and may have the capacity to provide informed consent themselves. Parents should to speak to their children ahead of time so that there is agreement on consent by the vaccination session.

Find out more about vaccines for 12-15 year olds:

I am 16. How can I get the vaccine?

All 16 and 17 year olds are eligible for one dose of the vaccine. You do not need your parents’ consent to get the vaccine if you’re 16 or over.

We can currently vaccinate 16 and 17 year olds in many vaccination sites in North Central London. You can check our list of walk-in clinics to find your nearest site vaccinating people aged 16 and above. People younger than 17 3/4 are currently being offered one dose of the vaccine.

If you are aged 16 or 17 and attend school, you can also ask to get the vaccine on the day that NHS teams visit your school to vaccinate younger children.

I am turning 18 next month. How can I get the vaccine?

Young people within three months of turning 18 can go to a walk-in clinic or can book a vaccine appointment online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119. If you are within three months of turning 18, you will also be offered an appointment to get a second dose.

Is my child eligible for two doses of the vaccine?

Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are being offered to:

  • children aged 12 years and over who live with someone with a suppressed immune system
  • children aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious COVID-19

The conditions which mean that children are considered at increased risk for serious COVID-19 disease include:

  • severe neuro-disabilities
  • Down’s syndrome
  • underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression
  • those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register

Find out more about health conditions and eligibility.

How will my clinically vulnerable child get the vaccine?

You will be contacted by your GP to arrange vaccination for your child. It will take place in a location that is convenient and practical for you to access, which could be a vaccination centre, a GP surgery, a pop-up clinic or a home visit for children who cannot leave their homes.

My child is younger than 12 but is clinically extremely vulnerable. Will younger children be offered the vaccine in future?

Clinical trials are currently underway in pre-school and primary-school aged children. The MHRA will not approve any vaccines for use in these age groups until the result of these trials is known. JCVI will continue to update its advice as new data emerge and we will update this page as soon as we know more.

How do we know the vaccine is safe for children?

The Pfizer vaccine has been authorised for use in people aged 12 years and over in the UK. This follows evidence from a clinical trial where around 1,000 children aged 12 to 15 years received 2 doses of the vaccine.

The UK has also benefited from having data from the US, Canada and Israel, which have already offered vaccines universally to young people aged 12 to 15 years.

These 2 videos from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) explain this in more detail: video 1 and video 2.

Over 13 million 12-17 year olds have now been vaccinated in the US with no safety concerns being raised.

Short-lived mild side effects including a sore arm and fever are common in this age group. There are emerging reports from the UK and other countries of rare but serious adverse events, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart) in younger adults. These reports are being closely evaluated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and JCVI. The MHRA publish weekly reports on side-effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

How were the vaccines developed so quickly?

All vaccines have had 3 stages of clinical trials and were tested on tens of thousands of people around the world. The trial phases were run in parallel, speeding up the overall time of vaccine production, but not the critical research time.

Since December 2020 the Pfizer vaccine has been given to millions of people in the UK and has an excellent safety record.

These 2 videos from DHSC explain this in more detail: video 3 and video 4.

Find your nearest vaccination site on our map of vaccination sites in North Central London. Or to find a vaccination site anywhere in England, visit the NHS COVID-19 vaccination search page.