For decades, vaccinations have protected our children and young people from potentially serious diseases, including measles, flu, meningitis and mumps.
The COVID-19 vaccine is one more vaccine that children will soon be able to have to protect them from illness.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommends that 5-11 year olds be offered the vaccine, which has been approved by the UK’s medicines regulator, to boost immunity and increase their protection against any future waves of COVID-19.
Parents can take their child to a vaccination centre, community pharmacy or GP offering jabs for this age group. Parents can view these sites and make an appointment through the National Booking Service or by calling 119.
Vaccinations are also available for 5-11 year olds at some local walk-in sites – follow the link to find a site near you.
Frequently asked questions
For most children COVID-19 is a mild illness that may require a few days off school but rarely leads to complications. For a very few children, the symptoms can be more serious or last longer.
Children with certain health conditions, or those with a weakened immune system, are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease. These children and those who live with someone who has a weakened immune system should already have been invited for vaccination.
As well as protecting children and young people against serious COVID infection, by getting vaccinated, children and young people can reduce the risk of passing on the infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with. Getting the vaccine can also make it easier for children and young people to avoid putting their lives and their education on hold because of further disruption to schools, hobbies and social events due to the virus.
The COVID-19 vaccine should give your child stronger protection than natural immunity from previous infection against serious complications of infection – including any future waves due to new variants. Your child should also have some protection from the mild symptoms, and vaccination lowers the risk they will pass the virus on to others around them.
For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or "long COVID". The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get COVID-19. People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems. There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection. Common long COVID symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and difficulty sleeping.
A full list of symptoms is available on the NHS website.
The risk to a child of serious impact from COVID-19 is relatively low, but it will be lower if they get the vaccine. Research shows the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent the virus’s worst effects, can reduce the risk of hospitalisation, and it can protect your child and those around them from catching the virus as easily.
The majority of children and young people (CYP) experience only mild symptoms following COVID-19 infection or are asymptomatic. However, there is evidence that some will experience Long COVID, and a minority of children may develop a delayed response known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS or PIMS) following COVID-19 infection.
The vaccine has been tested across the world and found to be safe and effective, including for children this age.
JCVI has recommended that the NHS offer vaccinations to all 5-11 year olds, to boost immunity and increase their protection against any future waves of COVID-19. This recommendation has been accepted by Government and the vaccine has been approved for this age group by the UK’s medicines regulator, so the NHS is preparing to offer the vaccine to this group.
COVID-19 is still active and causing some children to miss out on their education and the things they enjoy.
The NHS wants to support families to make an informed choice, and to make things convenient and child-friendly for those who do decide to get it.
Your child cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine. There is sometimes a delay in vaccines symptoms so it is possible they could catch the virus but not realise this until after their vaccination.
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your child suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for their body to build up maximum protection from the vaccine. Two doses of the vaccine should give your child long lasting protection against serious complications of infection – including any future waves due to new variants. Some children may still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, but this should be less severe. If a child has had COVID-19 they will still get extra protection from the vaccine, but they will need to wait 12 weeks before getting vaccinated.
Children aged 5-11 with no other underlying health conditions will be offered two paediatric (child) doses of the vaccine, with at least 12 weeks between doses. A paediatric dose is smaller than the doses given to those aged 12 and over.
5-11 year olds will be given a paediatric dose, 10 micrograms of Pfizer vaccine, compared to the 30 micrograms of Pfizer vaccine given to older children and adults. The majority of children and young people (CYP) experience only mild symptoms following COVID-19 infection or are asymptomatic. A smaller dose will provide protection while also reducing the risk of side-effects.
The immune response in 5-11 year olds after a paediatric dose of the vaccine will protect them from severe disease and reduce the risk of side-effects, in the same way that the adult dose protects those aged 12 and over. The vaccine does not remove the virus, but research and experience of countries around the world shows it can prevent the worst effects of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of infection to your child and those around them.
Children aged 5-11 years-old, who are more at risk from the virus can already get two paediatric (child) doses, eight weeks apart, and their GP or hospital specialist should be in touch to arrange this.
Vaccination centres, pharmacies and GPs in every part of England are offering the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect 5-11 year olds. Invitation letters will be sent out and appointments can be booked easily, just visit www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or call 119 to book your first or second dose. There are also convenient vaccine walkins across the country, which you can find on www.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab - that online finder shows which walk-in sites can vaccinate which age groups.
Parents, carers or those with parental responsibilities should attend COVID-19 vaccination appointments with their child. Unlike vaccinations in schools, consent is collected on the day so this is the best way to make sure they can be vaccinated by going through questions together on site. For looked after children, please refer to the care plan where permissions and restrictions of consent will be outlined. Follow the link for further information on consent to treatment for children and young people.
All vaccination sites, including GPs and Pharmacies are making efforts to ensure the vaccination environment is child-friendly and welcoming for families with young children. Vaccinators will make reasonable adjustments and fast-track individuals who are worried about vaccination. For example, sites may offer longer appointments and minimise the waiting time for children who are feeling anxious.
The NHS follows government decisions about who to vaccinate and the number of doses they received, which reflect recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI). Currently there are no plans to offer healthy 5-11 year olds a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.