Now that the school-based COVID-19 vaccination programme has ended, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding those aged between 12 and 17 who have not yet received a first dose or are waiting on a second dose, that they can make arrangements to do so through Trust vaccination hubs.
Children aged 12 to 17 are eligible to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. In most cases, this should be 12 weeks apart, or 12 weeks post-infection.
Parents, or those with parental responsibility, are asked for consent and will usually make this decision jointly with their children. Some young people will be mature enough to provide their own consent. Health care professionals will speak to the young person and make every effort to contact the parent if required. These professionals have expertise in vaccinating young people and will be responsible for assessing whether they have enough understanding to self-consent (this is called ‘Gillick competence’).
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Dr Jillian Johnston, Joint Interim Assistant Director in Health Protection at the PHA, said, “The school-based programme is now complete and from now on any further first or second doses for this age group will be administered at the Trust hubs.
“We are urging young people to make time over the half-term holidays to get vaccinated, as getting vaccinated is the first line of defence against COVID-19, which can spread easily and put more vulnerable family members at greater risk of severe illness and more likely to have to go to hospital.
“It is understandable that both parents and children will have questions and concerns around the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. The vaccine used has been proven to be both safe and effective for this age group.
“I would urge parents to read the information leaflets and talk to your children about the vaccine and make an informed decision together. It’s important that you check that your information comes from a reliable and trusted source such as the PHA or NI Direct. There is lots of misinformation out there, particularly about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are fortunate to have a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination programme, benefitting the health of the population. However, these benefits may only be realised if a high proportion of the groups who can get the vaccine actually take up the offer, helping to protect themselves and more vulnerable family members. Many of the Trusts are running clinics for 12 to 17 year olds over the half-term break, please make time to get vaccinated”.
Find out more at nidirect.gov.uk/covidvaccine