12-15-year-olds in Merton to be offered COVID-19 vaccine  

People aged 12 to 15 in Merton will be offered one dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by healthcare staff  administering the vaccine, in line with existing school vaccination programmes.  

The NHS is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to children and young people. This includes those aged 12 to 17 years at increased risk from infection who will need 2 doses of the vaccine 8 weeks apart. 

School-aged children without underlying health conditions will primarily receive their COVID-19 vaccination in their school with alternative provision for those who are home schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health settings.

Read this Q & A for 12-15 year old with answers provided by the vaccination team:

How does the consent process work for 12 to 15 year olds?  

All parents or those with parental responsibility will be asked to confirm if they give their consent for their child to be vaccinated or not and will usually make this decision, jointly with their children. The information leaflet is addressed to the child (as the recipient of the vaccine) and encourages them to discuss the decision about the vaccine with their parents.  Consent forms will be sent out electronically to parents and guardians who will be asked to return them back to the vaccination team before they visit the school.  We ask and encourage conversations at home so parents and guardians talk about the vaccination with their children.

I if a parent has not returned a consent form on the day of the session, our vaccination team will contact the parent or guardian to seek their verbal consent and without parental consent we will not vaccinate the child that day.  We will have conversations with children and their parents or guardians to answer any questions or concerns they may have as we fully appreciate the importance of this. This is a well-established process which is used in other school-based vaccination programmes.

Why is the vaccination being offered to 12 year olds rather than the whole of year 7? 

The vaccination is licensed for those aged 12 and above. It is not licensed for 11 year olds. The vaccination programme is being delivered in line with government guidance which has used age categorisation throughout the programme.   

Will this vaccine programme include independent and special schools? 

Yes –  the vaccine programme will include any educational setting with student aged between 12 and 15. Additional provision will be made for those aged 12-15 not in an education setting.

Will there be a gap in the vaccination for younger pupils, in year 7, between the flu and COVID jab? 

In some schools, we are rolling out the flu programme to align with the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Government guidance says we can offer both at the same time but should not delay either programme to facilitate this.   

Could you clarify whether or not schools will have a list of pupils with consent? 

We will ask schools to send out links to the consent forms, the consent forms will then come back to NHS colleagues. This list will then be passed back to the school. The list will be used to support the roll out of the programme operationally, we will work with schools to identify the best times to bring children forward for their vaccine.    

How long will parents have to consider the information provided and decide whether or not to give consent? 

In Merton, the vaccination will roll out from 11 October 2021, with the aim to deliver as many vaccinations as possible by half term. For schools that are hosting the vaccination programme earlier in the schedule, the time to consider the information will be less than those schools that are hosting the vaccination programme later in the schedule. The offer won’t go away, we will endeavour to help everyone get their vaccination once they have made the decision that they would like to have it.     

Where does the responsibility for the vaccine programme sit? 

The legal responsibility for the vaccine programme lies with the NHS. Like all school-based vaccination programmes, the vaccines will be administered by healthcare staff working closely with the school and following the usual approach to school-based immunisation. We are grateful for the support that schools provide by hosting NHS vaccination sessions.

Will the communication which invites parents to give consent make clear that responsibility for the process lies with the immunisation team (not the school)? 

Yes – we make it very clear that this is an NHS driven initiative. We are delivering the programme in a school setting, much like we have done in other settings including sports clubs or shopping centres.  

Can you please explain why one vaccine dose is being delivered rather than two and which vaccine will be delivered? 

The vaccine being administered is Pfizer. The guidance at present is for 12-15 year olds with no underlying health condition have one dose of the COVID vaccine. This is because the greatest benefit is seen after the first dose. 87 hospital admissions are prevented for every 1 million first doses compared to 6 hospital admissions for every 1 million second doses. As ever, this will be kept under review as the vaccination programme continues.

Are 16 – 17 and 9 months still via GP or vaccine centres? 

16 – 17 year olds are able to obtain a vaccination from their GP, Community Pharmacies and large vaccine sites. They are able to walk in to vaccine sites without an appointment. Check the grab a jab website or the SWL CCG website to find your local walk in centre.

Is the long term aim that 12-15yr olds will be able to attend a walk-in centre? What about 12-15 year olds who do not receive their vaccination in the first round of school vaccinations?

At this current time, nationally, the aim is to administer the vaccination in school. Further delivery mechanisms may be considered later on in the programme. However we would encourage people to take up the vaccine when offered it in their school setting.  

Can you clarify that the vaccine team are familiar with children who have complex needs?

The team will be made up of qualified nurses from the school immunisation team as well as experienced vaccinators. 

How many people can you vaccinate in one day?

The goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible by half term. Normally school immunisations team vaccinate 200 people per day, this programme is working on the assumption of vaccinating around 400 people per day. We will aim to work with you to minimise disruption wherever possible and refine the plan for your school through individual conversations. 

How many nurses will be on site?

Teams of 6 – 10 nurses will be on site. The number will depend on the school and the infrastructure available particularly given the need to observe the child for 15 minutes after they have had the vaccine. 

What is ability of teams to deal with side effects at the point of administration?

We would not expect the schools to deal with this. Children will be monitored during the 15 minute observation time by the school immunisation team. 

What about if a child has recently had Covid-19 – should they still get the vaccine?

The guidance states that individuals who have had Covid-19 should wait 28 days before receiving the vaccination. This will come up as part of the screening process and consent form. If a child is unable to be vaccinated on the day, we will offer alternative provision. 

What if children have had a vaccine abroad?

If have had suitable vaccine abroad then they won’t need another one through this programme. The guidance stipulates that 12-15 year olds will be offered 1 dose of the vaccine.