The NHS in the North West has started to roll out the COVID-19 jab to young people aged 12 to 15, as part of the biggest vaccination drive in health service history.
Healthy 12 to 15-year-olds are eligible for one dose of the Pfizer vaccine following the government’s acceptance of the UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation.
Vaccine delivery started initially in some schools last week and will be more widely rolled out across the North West in the coming weeks.
Like the flu and HPV vaccines, COVID-19 jabs are being delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services, with teams made up of experienced clinical staff who will work closely with schools to identify those eligible. The vaccine is being delivered in schools, around people they see every day, for a familiar setting.
In line with standard practice for vaccinations in schools, consent letters are being sent out to parents and guardians with information on the COVID-19 vaccination.
Families do not need to contact the NHS to arrange their child’s vaccine, schools and providers will be in touch.
Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning (North West), said, “It’s great to see healthy 12 to 15-year-olds starting to get their vaccination, building on the success of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme which has delivered more than 9.6 million vaccinations across the region.
“NHS staff have been working closely with North West schools to ensure they are ready to deliver the vaccine to anyone aged 12 to 15.
“The vaccine is safe and effective and I hope young people and their families will take the opportunity to get vaccinated when they are invited to protect themselves and those around them ahead of the winter period.”
Staff are working hard to offer vaccinations to all young people in this age group in the majority of schools before October half term to reduce disruption and prevent the likelihood of more serious illness. Those who cannot be accommodated before half term they will still have an opportunity to be vaccinated.
Alternative arrangements will be made to ensure those not in school are vaccinated, including those who are homeschooled or in secure services.
Young people aged 12 to 15 with health conditions that put them at increased risk from Covid, as well as those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, are already being invited for the lifesaving Covid-19 jab and are eligible for two doses of Pfizer.
More than 9.6 million vaccinations have been delivered across the North West, part of over 78 million nationally.
Last week, there was another landmark moment for the NHS in the North West as staff and volunteers pulled out all the stops to launch the autumn booster programme.
The school-aged flu programme has been extended this year so that in addition to children in primary school and year 7 secondary, it will now also be offered to those in years 8 to 11. It means that most secondary school-aged children will be eligible for both the flu and COVID-19 vaccine this winter, to protect both themselves and those around them.