Vaccine advice for parents and carers

The latest information on who is eligible for a vaccine and how to book a vaccination appointment if you are eligible.

By Callum Campbell · Published: January 19, 2022

Woman receiving a vaccination

You may have seen the Government plans to rollout vaccines and booster jabs for Covid-19. Vaccines were first offered to priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which can be found in this document >>

Below you will find information on who is eligible for a vaccine and how to book a vaccination appointment if you are eligible.

Children aged 12 or over, young people and adults

Anyone aged 12 or over in the UK is eligible for a primary course of at least two vaccine Covid-19 vaccines.

All health and social care workers are set to be required to have a vaccine to work from April 2022.

Children and young people will be offered the Pfizer vaccine. Adults aged 18 to 40 will be offered either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, whilst adults aged 40 or over may be offered also be offered the AstraZenica vaccine.

Children aged 11 or under

The JCVI has recommended that children aged 5 to 11 who are in an at risk group should receive two vaccine doses. Children in this age range who will be offered a vaccine include those with:

  • severe neurodisabilities
  • immunosuppression – those whose immune systems don’t work as well and those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed
  • profound and multiple or severe learning disabilities
  • being on the learning disability register
  • those with Down’s syndrome
  • those with long term serious conditions affecting their body. Your GP will know if they need to have the vaccine

You should receive a letter explaining how to book a vaccine appointment if your child is eligible. For more information, visit the Government website >>

Trials for children under the age of five are ongoing.

Booster jabs

Young people and adults aged 16 and over, and children aged 12 and over who are in an at risk group or live with a severely immunosuppressed person are currently eligible to receive a booster jab three months after they finished their primary course.

Booster jabs are designed to boost people’s immunity against Covid-19 after they have had their first two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. There is also emerging evidence to suggest that the booster jabs make the vaccine more effective against the Omicron variant.

The JCVI has recommended that the booster jabs provided should either be the Pfizer vaccine, or a half-dose of the Moderna vaccine. These will be offered regardless of which vaccine you received for your first and second doses. Find out more in the JCVI Green Book >>

Third primary dose for severely immunosuppressed children and adults aged 12 or over

People who are severely immunosuppressed should be offered a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. These third dose counts as part of the primary course for these people, and are separate to booster jabs. Immunosuppressed people can receive a booster jab after their primary course of three vaccine doses.

A third dose will be offered to severely immunosuppressed people because some studies show that they may have lower levels of antibodies after vaccination, and therefore may be less protected from severe illness than the wider population.

Further information about who is considered to be severely immunosuppressed and may be offered a third dose can be found in the JCVI press release from 1 September 2021 here >>

You should be contacted by the NHS to book an appointment your child is immunosuppressed and eligible for a third dose.

How to book a vaccination appointment

In England

  • Children, young people and adults aged 12 and over may book a first or second vaccination appointment via the national booking service or visit a walk in vaccination centre. Children aged 12 to 16 may also be offered a vaccine at school.
  • People aged 16 and over can book a booster jab two months after a second dose, to be received three months after a second dose through the national booking service.
  • Immunosuppressed people aged 12 or over should contact their GP or specialist for more information about their third dose.

In Scotland

  • Your local health board should contact you directly with details of your appointment once you are eligible. If you are newly eligible, or if you have not received a vaccine yet, you can register your interest in getting a vaccine and find out more here >>

In Wales

  • You will be contacted directly by your local health board once you are eligible for a vaccine. If you think you have been missed during the vaccine rollout or for more information about the vaccine rollout in your area, visit the Welsh Government website here>>

In Northern Ireland

  • First and second jab appointments can be booked online here >>
  • Most 12 to 15 year olds will be offered a vaccine as part of a school-based programme.
  • Most adult’s aged 18 or over can receive a dose at a local pharmacy. For more information and a list of participating pharmacies and booster jabs, visit the Northern Ireland Government website >>

There are fears that this winter will bring an increased number of flu cases. Children, vulnerable groups, pregnant women and people aged 50 and over are eligible for a free flu vaccine this year. You will be contacted if you are eligible for a flu vaccine. These vaccinations are normally given at pharmacies and GP surgeries.

Some people hold strong beliefs about the Covid-19 vaccine. It can be particularly difficult to explain your choices regarding the vaccine and your child if someone in your family or friendship group is anti-vaccination.

You should make your decision about the vaccine based on the best interests of you and your child. Many of the people who do not believe that people should be given a vaccine have read online misinformation or conspiracy theories that are not based on evidence. In contrast, the information about the vaccine that is provided by the NHS and JCVI is based on scientific studies.

The vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective, and the Pfizer and Moderna (AKA Spikevax) vaccines have been found to be safe for use in 12-15 year olds. All vaccines have side effects, but the majority of these are minor. All vaccines, like all medications, carry a degree of risk. But on the balance of evidence, the benefits of a Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks for the groups of people the JCVI has recommended.

The Covid-19 vaccines have been developed and approved using the same rigorous process that is used to develop and approve all vaccines. The process was shorter than that of most vaccines thanks to a global effort to fight Covid-19. To find out more, watch this informative video published by the NHS >>

The British Islamic Medical Association has a great “myth busting” resources, to help you explain why some of the things some people read online about the vaccines are not true. Visit their website here >>

JCVI Greenbook chapter 14a

Government press release:Young people aged 12 to 15 to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine 

A guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11 years of age at high risk – 

Covid-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan (2021)

JCVI updated advice on COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 12 to 15, September 2021 

JCVI Statement on the vaccination of children and young people aged 12 – 17, July 2021 

JCVI press release: advice on third dose vaccination for severely immunosuppressed

UK Government’s Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan

Scottish Government’s coronavirus (Covid-19): vaccine deployment plan

Welsh Government’s Vaccination strategy for Wales

Public Health Agency Northern Ireland Information materials on the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

(NHS letter) Next steps following updated JCVI guidance in relation to COVID-19 vaccinations for children and young people

Callum Campbell, Family Information Officer

First published 21 January 2021

Last reviewed 19 January 2022

Next review due 25 Jaunary 2022