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: September 21, 2021

Woman receiving a vaccination

You may have seen the Government plans to rollout vaccines 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.

Parents, carers, and anyone aged 18 or over

Anyone aged 18 or over can book a vaccine appointment for a first or second dose using the methods listed below.

Receiving a vaccine is a choice and some carers may not wish to receive the vaccine. Vaccines are currently not mandatory for all carers. From October, the vaccine will be mandatory for people who work in care homes only.

There is more information about booster jabs and third doses for imunosuppressed people further down this page.

How to book a vaccination appointment

  • In England, if you are aged 18 or over, or if you are aged 17 and within three months of your 18th birthday – you can book a vaccination appointment for your first or second dose by contacting your GP directly or through the NHS England website here >> You can also use this method to book a booster jab if you have been instructed by the NHS to do so.
  • In Scotland – Your local health board should contact you directly with details of your appointment once you are eligible. If you are aged 16 or over, you can register your interest in getting a vaccine and find out more here >>
  • In Wales – You will be contacted directly by the NHS 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 – you can find out more about booking a vaccination appointment here >> or by phone: 0300 200 7813
  • Some areas also have walk in vaccination centres for people aged 16 or over. For more information, visit the NHS website here>> 

Booster jabs for adults (16+) who are either aged 50 or over, clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), or in an at risk group

The JCVI has advised that adults in priority groups 1 to 9 should be offered a Covid-19 “booster” vaccine dose, no earlier than six months after they have completed their primary course. The NHS will begin to offer these booster jabs from 20 September 2021. People aged 50 or over, and those aged 16 and over who are CEV or in an at risk group will be eligible to receive a booster jab – find out more in the JCVI Green Book >>

The JCVI has recommended that the booster jabs provided should either be the Pfizer vaccine, or a half-dose of the Moderna (AKA Spikevax) vaccine. These will be offered regardless of which vaccine you received for your first and second doses.

Those eligible for a booster jab will be contacted by the NHS directly. After you have been contacted by the NHS you may book a booster jab appointment using by contacting your GP or through the NHS website in England.

Young people aged 16 & 17

The JCVI has recommend that all young people aged 16 and over should be offered a vaccine. These young people should have been contacted by their GP  and offered an appointment. They can also visit walk in vaccination centres – find out if there is one in your area here >>

Young people aged 16 and 17 cannot currently book an appointment through the NHS website unless they are within three months of their 18th birthday.

Children aged 12 to 15

The Government has announced that all children aged 12 to 15 will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine. This includes children who have no underlying health conditions.

The JCVI had previously recommended that only children aged 12 to 15 with certain underlying health conditions should receive the vaccine. The rollout for these children has already begun, and you should have been contacted by the NHS if your child is eligible.

The Chief Medical Officers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have since recommended that all children aged 12 to 15 should be offered at least one dose of the vaccine. This decision was made for a number of reasons, including to help keep cases of Covid-19 in schools down. Find out more on the Government website here >>

Rollout plans for children aged 12 to 15 are still being put in place, but it is expected that healthy children in England will be offered a vaccine through their school.

So far, the Pfizer and Moderna (AKA Spikevax) vaccines have been approved for use in children aged 12-15.

Children aged 12 or over who live with an immunosuppressed person

The JCVI also recommends that children aged 12 or over who are in the same household as someone who is immunosuppressed should be offered a Covid-19 vaccine. This could mean that siblings of a child with complex needs who is immunosuppressed will be eligible for a vaccine.

Although these children are eligible, parents cannot currently book a vaccine appointment for them on the NHS website. Instead, families should have been contacted by their GP if they are eligible.

Children aged 11 or under

Pfizer have recently announced the results of trials suggest their vaccine is safe for children aged five to 11. The JCVI has not yet given advice on the whether children in this age range should receive a vaccine. We will update this page with any further announcements.

Trials for children under the age of five are ongoing, and Pfizer have said that the results are expected later this year.

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

The JCVI has announced that they will recommend people who are severely immunosuppressed should be offered a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. These third doses are separate to the plan to rollout booster jabs to certain groups of older of CEV people which has been speculated in the media.

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 if you or your child is immunosuppressed and eligible for a third dose. You cannot currently book a third dose of a vaccine through the NHS 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 

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 21 September 2021

Next review due 28 September 2021