The UK’s vaccine rollout has been a success story, allowing us to return to our normal lives. Across the country people have been enjoying catching up with friends and family and doing the things they love.
The next step in the Government’s strategy for keeping us safe from Covid-19 is the roll-out of the vaccine to younger groups. Over 50 per cent of 16-17 year olds have had the jab, and 12-15 year olds are now being offered a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to provide them with protection from the virus.
Vaccines have saved more than 100,000 lives across the UK. By getting the vaccine, you build up the antibodies in your system that allow you to fight off the virus when you might come across it. That means you are either not at risk from infection, or that if you catch it your body will have the best possible chance of dealing with it without you becoming seriously ill.
Being vaccinated also means that you’re protecting others by being less likely to catch Covid-19 and therefore to pass it on, big public events like festivals and football matches can take place in safer environments if everybody there has had at least one jab.
So younger people are now being invited to get the jab, just like the 48 million people who have already had a first dose of the jab in the UK, or the 182 million in the United States. Over 50% of 16-17 year olds have had the jab already.
The Chief Medical Officer has now said that giving 12-15 year olds one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab will help increase protection against Covid-19 – and play a huge part in keeping us all safe through the winter, making it much less likely we will be forced to enter another lockdown.
Influencers are up for it
Seventeen year-old Instagram influencer Amazing Arabella has more than a quarter of a million followers, and she’s looking forward to getting her jab.
“I think it’s a great thing for everyone to have, and it’s keeping everyone safe, which is good as well. I think people want to get back to normality, just like I do. There’s loads of cool events coming up, such as Halloween, Christmas and we all want to go to them, we don’t want to miss them,” she said.
“We want to spend time with our families too. And we just want to be out and about and back to normal – I think that’s what it’s all about. I’m looking forward to going back to normal.”
Arabella’s right that we’ve all got catching up in our social lives to do – and getting the jab makes it a lot less likely that you’ll be forced to miss out.
Her brother JD agrees.
“Covid-19 was a bad experience for everyone, being locked down was obviously not fun. Now we’ve got so many exciting holidays coming, like Halloween, Christmas, and you can’t forget all the presents,” he said. So he’s hoping to get his jab right away.
Arabella’s role as an influencer means she’s been able to talk to plenty of experts about the vaccine.
“On my digital platforms I’ve interviewed a few of the doctors who have actually worked on the vaccine, talking about how safe the vaccine is, and why it’s important for everyone to get it.
“And it was actually very nice to talk to them, because I learned more, so if anyone wants to see those videos or do research before they go get the vaccine to just make them feel a bit better about it, I think they should,” she said.
Arabella and her brother are good examples of people who’ve done their research – and found out that the vaccine is safe. The process to approve the vaccine was the same as any other – and it’s all been independent of government, tested instead by medical experts who are regarded as the very best in their field.
And the doctors who are charged with giving out the vaccine are equally keen that younger age groups get it.
Dr Farzana Hussain, a GP and a clinical director, thinks it’s vital that young people get the jab – for their mental as well as their physical health.
“My son Usmaan has just gone to Manchester University. He is at medical school. I am so proud,” she said.
Now jabbed, she says “he feels secure and can go to all the fresher’s parties and mix with other students and feel less worried. He knows he has less chance of getting COVID or, if he does, he is at less risk of getting serious illness,” she continued.
And Dr. Hussain is keen to make the point that the jab has the same science behind it as the other vaccinations young people receive.
“There is no difference between young people receiving the COVID jab than there is in HPV or MMR,” she tells us.
“Parents/guardians will receive a letter of consent from School Age Immunisation Service, which they can sign.
Young people will receive their vaccination at schools and colleges. There is no need to be frightened of having a conversation with young people about COVID or any health issues. It is good that we are having conversations about health.”
How is it delivered?
All 12-15 year olds are now being offered first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with vaccinations teams visiting schools across the country. All parents are asked for consent for their children to be vaccinated – and they are welcome to speak to their GP or other healthcare professionals beforehand if they have any concerns.
If a child isn’t at school that day, a catch-up appointment will be arranged.
16-17 year old jabs can now be booked online, parents, guardians and carers can give a helping hand if they need it: nhs.uk/covidvaccination
If you are a parent, guardian or a carer of a young person aged 12-15 and have questions about the vaccine, please speak to the school age immunisation service provider. You will receive their contact details with the information and consent form.