Updated: 4 September 2023
Who will be offered COVID-19 vaccinations?
Since July 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have been advising on how the COVID-19 vaccination programme may be applied to children and young people. This advice covers primary doses and booster doses.
What is the advice on primary doses?
From the 30 June 2023, primary course COVID-19 vaccination became a targeted offer during seasonal campaigns to those at higher risk of severe COVID-19 only i.e. risk groups stated in the Green Book chapter and household contacts of someone who is immunosuppressed.
The exception to this are those aged 6 months and above who are severely immunosuppressed (as defined in Box 1 and Box 2 in the Green Book). They should be considered for immunisation regardless of the time of year.
The JCVI have also advised that the primary COVID-19 immunisation course for those aged 5 years and above who are not severely immunosuppressed should move to a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Those aged 6 months to 4 years will continue to have two doses and those who are severely immunosuppressed will continue to have an additional dose as advised in the Green Book chapter.
Below is the advised primary dosage schedule:
|6 months - 4 year olds at higher clinical risk*||Two 3mcg doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, at least 3 months apart|
|5-11 year olds at higher clinical risk*||One 10mcg dose of Pfizer-BioNTech|
|12-17 year olds at higher clinical risk*||One 30mcg dose of Pfizer-BioNTech|
|12-17 year olds who are household contacts of someone who is immunosuppressed||One 30mcg doses of Pfizer-BioNTech|
|16 years and over who are carers **||One 30mcg doses of Pfizer-BioNTech|
|6 months - 17 year olds who are severely immunosuppressed***||See advice in the Green Book|
|Note: The Green Book provides advice on dosing intervals following recent COVID-19 infection|
* clinical risk as defined in Table 4 of the Green Book chapter on COVID-19
** as defined in Table 3 of the Green Book chapter on COVID-19
*** criteria listed in Box 1 and Box 2 in the Green Book chapter on COVID-19
What about booster doses for children and young people?
Autumn Booster campaign 2023
On the 8 August 2023 JCVI published advice on the COVID vaccination programme for Autumn 2023. A booster dose will be offered in the Autumn to the groups below:
- 6 months -17 year olds in a clinical risk group. Clinical risk groups are defined in Tables 3 and 4 of chapter 14a of the Green Book.
- 12 -17 year olds who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression, as defined in chapter 14a of the Green Book.
- Carers who are aged 16 and over, as defined by Table 3 of chapter 14a of the Green Book.
It is recommended that there should be a minimum interval of 3 months between the booster dose and any previous doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
For advice on additional doses and booster doses for those with severe immunosuppression see the Green Book.
The programme is set to start in England on 11 September with the other UK nations due to confirm the start date soon.
How will those who are eligible be able to get their vaccinations?
The four health services across the UK will provide details of how and when those who are eligible will be able to get their vaccinations.
The Governments and NHS vaccine programmes should provide clear and consistent information for children and young people, families and clinicians with regards to the vaccination programme.
In England further information has been published on nhs.uk.
Further details of the Welsh Government’s vaccination programme is available on the GOV.WALES website.
What information will be provided to children, young people and their families about this?
The JCVI and CMOs have noted that the risks and benefits around COVID-19 vaccination for children and young people are more finely balanced than for older age groups. Information provided should cover all the details needed to ensure informed consent can be given by the 12-17 year old. For those aged 6 months -11, a parent or carer will need to provide that informed consent
For those who are household contacts of a person who is immunosuppressed - vaccination should be offered on the understanding that the main benefits are related to the potential for indirect protection of that household contact.
Information about the vaccine, its safety and side effects has been published by the UK Health Security Agency.
What information will be available to support healthcare professionals?
The Green Book details the clinical criteria, the evidence base, potential safety and side effects, and recommended dosing intervals (which vary according to age, risk profile and time since a confirmed COVID-19 infection). This information should support clinicians discuss risks and benefits of vaccination with children, young people and their families.
Product information about individual vaccines is available from the MHRA. Three formulations of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine have been authorised for use: for 6 months - 4 year olds, for 5-11 year olds and an adult formulation for those aged 12 and over. The Moderna vaccine are authorised for use in 12-17 year olds. Other vaccines have yet to be authorised for under 18s in the UK.
Is the paediatric formulation available in the UK?
Yes, the paediatric formulation is available in the UK.
What’s the College’s view on myocarditis?
We don’t know the long-term issues from vaccination, but nor do we have a full understanding of the long-term issues from COVID-19. All suspected side effects to COVID-19 vaccines should be reported to the MHRA through the Yellow Card Scheme. The College looks to JCVI to review the evidence and data and provide advice on risk.
What about other routine childhood vaccinations?
JCVI has stressed the importance of ensuring that other routine immunisations for children and young people are maintained given the benefits they offer. National immunisation programmes are proven to be highly effective at preventing disease, reducing serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and measles.
As we note in our position statement on vaccinations, paediatricians and child health professionals can support national vaccination programmes through their work by making every contact count. Some groups are at greater risk of low vaccine uptake, including children in large families, children in lone parent families, looked after children, children in mobile families including the travelling community, children in some ethnic minority groups, children with chronic conditions or disability. Children’s immunisation status should form part of any assessment. If vaccines are not up to date, the reason should be established. Parents may have delayed or refused vaccines for a variety of reasons and parents should be offered the opportunity to discuss their concerns.
Latest updates to this page
- Updates in this version (4 September) updated information from the Green Book on primary immunisation
- Updates in this version (8 August 2023) updated information on Autumn 2023 booster campaign. Removed outdated advice related to previous campaigns.
- Update in version (1 June 2023) to add expected dates for commencement of vaccination offer in Scotland and Wales for babies and children aged 6 months to 4 years in clinical risk groups