The UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) all agree that while COVID-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and one dose of the vaccine will provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.
They say that vVaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds should also help to reduce the need for young people to have time off school and reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 within schools.
In Peterborough, 25% of recorded COVID cases for the week ending 22 September were in the 10 to 14 age group. A further 10% were among those aged 15 to 19.
The COVID-19 vaccine helps to reduce the chance of COVID-19 infection and provides good protection against serious disease. It may take a few weeks to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine.
Like all school-based vaccination programmes, the vaccines will be administered by the school age immunisation service provider, working closely with the school. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough this will be done by the Hertfordshire and East Anglia Community and School Age Immunisation Service.
For any young people aged 12 to 15 years who do not receive their vaccine on the vaccine day, there will be catch-up arrangements in place that the school age immunisation service provider will be able to share with the school.
This includes any young person who turns 12 years of age after the day the school age immunisation service provider visits the school.
All parents, or those with parental responsibility, are asked for consent and will usually make this decision jointly with their children.
In secondary schools, some young people may be mature enough to provide their own consent. This sometimes occurs if a parent has not returned a consent form, but the child still wishes to have the vaccine on the day of the session. Every effort will be made to contact the parent to seek their verbal consent.
This is a well-established process which parents will be familiar with from other school-based vaccination programmes.
Cllr Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, Skills and the University said: “The vaccination programme is an essential part of our continued efforts to keep Peterborough children in education, keep families and communities safe, and protect our NHS, and is something we fully support.
“Unfortunately, we have seen reports nationally of headteachers or other school staff receiving threats or facing intimidation as the vaccination programme rolls out. From this week onwards, the vaccination programme of 12 to 15-year-olds starts in Peterborough schools and we want to be clear that we will not tolerate abuse of school staff – who have worked valiantly throughout the pandemic - and will not hesitate to seek assistance from the police if needed.
“We also want to be clear that this is an offer of vaccination. It is up to pupils, their parents, and carers to decide whether or not they get vaccinated. Whatever their choice we would urge people to be respectful of each other, and keep in mind that the role of schools is limited to hosting vaccination sessions and dealing with associated communications. I would also urge anyone who thinks they may have COVID to isolate and take a PCR test.”