NHS aims to vaccinate most 12- to 15-year-olds against COVID-19 by October half term

NHS England is aiming to administer COVID-19 vaccines to most 12- to 15-year-olds by October half term, primarily through a school-based immunisation programme.

(Picture: SOPA Images/Getty Images)
(Picture: SOPA Images/Getty Images)

A letter to practices on 15 September says NHS England expects to start the vaccination programme in schools 'no later than' the 22 September 'with the majority of school visits completed and vaccinations administered before October half term'.

However it acknowledged the tight time frames involved could mean that some school visits will not take place until after the break.

The letter suggested that some PCN sites might also be 'sub-contracted' by NHS England regional teams to deliver the vaccinations. However it stressed that the jabs could only happen outside of schools as an exception and after NHS England had determined that they would not impact on capacity at vaccination sites.

The letter also revealed that PCN vaccination sites could be part of follow-up vaccination plans for any children who turn 12 after the school visit and those who were absent on the day of vaccinations, within 28 days of a positive COVID result, or take longer to decide to take up the vaccination offer.

It says: 'Further guidance will follow on the expectations of a secondary offer, and the evergreen offer for those turning 12. It is anticipated that this will be delivered out-of-school (to minimise any further disruption to education and other immunisation programmes).'

Clinically-vulnerable children

NHS England said it expected that school-based vaccination teams would also be able to immunise any clinically vulnerable 12- to 15-year-olds and those aged 16 and 17 who had not yet received the vaccine.

It has also suggested that school teams could administer the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu jab, but stressed that they 'should not delay vaccinations' in order to do this.

The plans follow recommendations from the UK's chief medical officers last week that healthy children aged between 12 and 15 years should receive a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine.

Ministers sought advice from the CMOs earlier this month after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 'marginally outweigh' potential risks in children aged 12 to 15 years old, but stopped short of recommending adding this group to the national vaccination campaign.

Vaccine benefits

In advice published on 13 September, the CMOs said the benefits of ''educing educational disruption and the consequent reduction in public health harm' from extending jabs to this group - added to the marginal benefit identified by the JCVI - justified rollout to 12- to 15-year-olds.

The CMOs have asked the JCVI to provide further advice on whether a second dose of the vaccine will be needed for this cohort.

The JCVI had previously recommended that young people aged 16 and 17 years old, as well as clinically vulnerable children aged between 12 and 15 years old receive the COVID-19 vaccine. These jabs are being delivered by PCN and other vaccination sites.

Current guidance is that 12- to 15-year-olds in at-risk groups, as well as those aged between 12 and 18 who are a household contact of someone is immunosuppressed, should receive two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at least eight weeks apart. Meanwhile, healthy 16- and 17-year-olds should receive one dose of the vaccine pending further advice from the JCVI.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Face-to-face GP appointments on demand 'unachievable', warns RCGP chair

Face-to-face GP appointments on demand 'unachievable', warns RCGP chair

Calls for general practice to offer face-to-face appointments to all patients who...

Cornwall PCN wheels out electric car fleet to reduce carbon footprint

Cornwall PCN wheels out electric car fleet to reduce carbon footprint

Staff at a primary care network (PCN) in Cornwall have committed to reducing their...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

Repeat prescribing and SMR overhaul as review finds one in 10 scrips unnecessary

Repeat prescribing and SMR overhaul as review finds one in 10 scrips unnecessary

Repeat prescribing and use of structured medication reviews in general practice are...

BMA demands emergency meeting with government over GP abuse

BMA demands emergency meeting with government over GP abuse

BMA leaders have requested an emergency summit with the government to discuss ‘unacceptable...

Millions of pounds lost to general practice as flagship recruitment scheme falls short

Millions of pounds lost to general practice as flagship recruitment scheme falls short

Tens of millions of pounds in funding from a flagship recruitment scheme set up to...