This leaflet explains the COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccination programme for children and young people aged five to 17 who are at greater risk from COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 is a very infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Very few children with COVID-19 infection go on to have severe disease.
All children and young people aged five and over in Wales have been offered a course of COVID-19 vaccine.
Children and young people aged five to 17 who have health conditions that put them at greater risk from COVID-19 will be offered a booster this autumn. This will be given no sooner than three months after their last dose.
It is important to be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines. If you have missed a previous booster dose and are eligible this autumn, you will only need to have the autumn booster dose.
A COVID-19 autumn booster vaccine is strongly recommended even if you have already received a booster dose. Getting vaccinated is a safe and effective way to protect against serious illness and being admitted to hospital.
An autumn booster is also being offered to:
For more information on whether you are eligible for the vaccine, go to: phw.nhs.wales/covidvaccine/eligibility
If you have not yet had either of your first two doses of the vaccine you should have them as soon as possible. For more information, go to:
The vaccine for children and young people is effective and safe for them to have. They will be offered a COVID-19 autumn booster vaccine suitable for their age.
The medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has confirmed the COVID-19 vaccine being offered to children and young people is safe and effective.
COVID-19 can affect anyone. For most children and young people, COVID-19 is a mild illness and rarely leads to complications. For some, the symptoms may last for longer than the usual two to three weeks. However, some children and young people may get seriously ill and have to go to hospital.
The risks of COVID-19 infection are higher for children and young people with underlying health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, serious heart problems, and chest complaints or breathing difficulties, including poorly controlled asthma.
Getting vaccinated is a safe and effective way to protect against serious illness and being admitted to hospital with COVID-19. Vaccination is also expected to offer some protection against future waves of COVID-19 infection.
The vaccine that is being offered produces a strong immune response and provides good protection against severe illness from COVID-19.
It may take a few weeks to build up some protection from the vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but the effects should be less severe.
Children and young people with disorders of the immune system may not make a strong immune response to the vaccine, but it should offer them protection against severe disease.
A parent or carer with parental responsibility for a child or young person will be asked to give informed consent (permission) for them to have the vaccine.
In some circumstances, young people aged 12 to 15 may be mature enough to give consent themselves if they fully understand what is being offered, although it is best that parents or carers are involved in their decision about having the vaccine.
It is important young people read the information about the COVID-19 vaccination and understand the risks and benefits of vaccination. The nurse or person giving the vaccination will be able to discuss the vaccine at the appointment and answer any questions.
There are very few children and young people who cannot have the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine should not be given to anyone who has had:
Children and young people with a history of serious allergic reaction to food, an identified drug or vaccine or an insect sting can have the COVID-19 vaccine, if they are not known to be allergic to any ingredient of the vaccine. It is important that you tell the person giving you the vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction.
COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as most other vaccines. For the latest advice on this, please visit: phw.nhs.wales/covidvaccine
It is especially important that children and young people who have a long-term health condition get vaccinated against flu, as they are at a greater risk of complications than other children if they catch it. More information is available at: phw.nhs.wales/fluvaccine
Children and young people who are at greater risk of serious illness should leave at least four weeks between having COVID-19 and being vaccinated.
For all other children and young people there should be an interval of at least
12 weeks before getting the vaccine.
If in doubt, discuss this with the person giving the vaccination.
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short term and not everyone gets them. The very common side effects should only last a day or two.
Very common side effects in the first day or two include:
An uncommon side effect is swollen glands in the armpit or neck on the same side as the arm where the vaccine was given. This can last for around 10 days, but if it lasts longer contact your GP surgery for advice.
You may have a mild fever for two to three days after the vaccination. However, a high temperature is unusual and may be because you have another infection or illness. If you are worried speak to your doctor or nurse. Children and young people can take paracetamol (in the correct dose and form for their age) to help them feel better. It’s important to read the dosing instructions on (or in) the packet.
Remember – children and young people under 16 should not take medicines that contain aspirin.
Cases of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis or pericarditis) have been reported very rarely after COVID-19 vaccines.
Most children and young people recover and feel better following rest and simple treatment.
Get medical advice urgently if you notice the following side effects:
Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week.
If the symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can visit 111.wales.nhs.uk online, call NHS 111 Wales by dialling 111, or contact your GP surgery.
If you do get advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about the vaccination (show them the vaccine record card, if possible) so that they can carry out a proper assessment.
Make sure you keep the vaccine record card safe.
You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online by searching Yellow Card scheme, by downloading the Yellow Card app, or by calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine as the vaccines do not contain organisms that grow in the body so they cannot cause COVID-19 infection. It is possible to have caught COVID-19 and not have the symptoms until after the vaccination. The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are:
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home and follow the current national guidance at: gov.wales/coronavirus
If you need more information on symptoms, visit 111.wales.nhs.uk
COVID-19 is spread through droplets breathed out from the nose or mouth, particularly when speaking or coughing. It can also be picked up by touching your eyes, nose and mouth after contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.
You must still follow the current guidance at gov.wales/coronavirus
You can find more information on vaccines offered in Wales at: phw.nhs.wales/vaccines
You can find out more information about vaccines, including their contents and possible side effects, at: medicines.org.uk/emc. You will need to enter the words ‘COVID vaccine’ in the search box.
You can report suspected side effects online at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or by downloading the Yellow Card app or calling 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
If you have any questions or want more information, you can visit 111.wales.nhs.uk, talk to your doctor or nurse or call NHS 111 Wales
To find out how the NHS uses your information, visit: 111.wales.nhs.uk/AboutUs/ Yourinformation
For other formats of this leaflet, visit: phw.nhs.wales/vaccines/accessible-information
© Public Health Wales, August 2022
(with acknowledgement to UK Health Security Agency)