Guidance on Plans for Vaccination of 12-15-year-olds

Introduction
England
Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
 

Intro

The UK Government and the devolved administrations have announced that healthy children in England aged 12-15 will be offered a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. This is in addition to the existing vaccine offer to children with underlying health issues or those living with severely immunocompromised family members.

The decision has been taken following a review by the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), which itself followed a determination by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that the benefit to children was slim and that other factors needed to be taken into account.

The CMOs looked for additional information over above what the JCVI had considered, including disruption to education and disruption to other vaccine campaigns.

They noted that the impact on education includes the mental health of the child and that this tends to impact disproportionately on disadvantaged children. The programme will help to reduce infections and therefore the impact.

They did not consider any wider benefits to the whole population; the recommendation is solely on benefit to the children themselves.

Further information on the CMOs recommendation can be found at Key published inputs to the UK CMOs advice on universal vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 15 years against COVID-19.

Currently, the evidence shows that there is a very small risk of myocarditis for children receiving the vaccine. However, this risk increases with the second dose, so healthy 12-15-year-olds are only being offered a single dose at the current time, although this will be under review.

The exception to this is healthy children living with severely immunocompromised people will be offered two doses, mainly due to the mental health implications of the child infecting their family member, especially if the family member dies.

How the vaccination programme for 12-15 year olds will be rolled out varies across the UK

England

The programme will be delivered using the existing school immunisation programme and existing school teams, who will already have a relationship with schools.

Written guidance will be issued in the next couple of days, including consent and information leaflets for parents. Schools will be used to distribute the forms and leaflets, but they will have no role in dealing with returns or queries.

The process will start this week (ending 17 September) or early next week, with a staggered start to the vaccinations likely to be after half term.

The Government has been clear that any legal liability rests with the health teams and not with schools.

The principle of informed consent will apply as it does now to other school vaccination programmes, such as the HPV vaccine. Where there is no return or a disagreement between the child and the parent, the school immunisation team will contact the parties to establish consent.

Immunisation teams are well versed in how to deal with the situation where a child disagrees with their parent’s wishes, although it is not common in other vaccination programmes.

The use of vaccination centres was considered, but the Government want to be vaccinating as many children as possible as quickly as possible. It was felt that using the school programme was better and less disruptive to schools.

The Government have also been clear that the involvement of school staff in the process will be minimal, with the school immunisation teams responsible for the reception, triage, vaccination and immediate aftercare of pupils.

The NASUWT expects that the Government’s assurances over the involvement of school staff will be honoured. The following important considerations and expectations should apply to NASUWT members:

  • Teachers should not be required to play any part whatsoever in the actual vaccination process.

  • Schools’ involvement in supporting the implementation of vaccinations for 12-15-year-olds should not result in additional workloads for teachers.

  • As the vaccine programme is foreseeable, there should be no expectation for teachers to undertake cover for other colleagues as a result of a school’s participation in the vaccination programme.

  • If there is a disagreement between pupils and their parents, this is a matter for the vaccination team to address. The school and its staff must not become involved.

  • Some schools are reporting receiving threatening correspondence from certain groups. Any correspondence that is of concern, particularly if it threatens any form of violence, should be reported to headteacher/principal who should then inform the police. The Government are providing additional guidance on this matter to school leaders.

  • Headteachers/principals should discuss with their governing body/local authority/academy trust any correspondence before making a response.

  • If it becomes apparent that a protest is likely/being planned, this should be reported to the vaccination team, local authority and the police.

If members have any concerns about their school’s organisation and implementation of the vaccination programme for 12-15-year-olds, please contact the NASUWT immediately.

Northern Ireland

The process in Northern Ireland will be school-based. The NASUWT would expect the same approach to be taken as in England, with schools only used as the venue and not directly involved in the process.

The principle of informed consent will apply as it does now to other school vaccination programmes, such as the HPV vaccine. For school-based vaccinations, where there is a disagreement between the child and the parent, the school immunisation team should contact the parties to establish consent.

The following important considerations and expectations should apply to NASUWT members:

  • Teachers should not be required to play any part whatsoever in the actual vaccination process.

  • Schools’ involvement in supporting the implementation of vaccinations for 12-15-year-olds should not result in additional workloads for teachers.

  • If there is a disagreement between pupils and their parents, this is a matter for the vaccination team to address. The school and its staff must not become involved.

Scotland

In the first instance, vaccinations will be given in drop-in centres and community clinics. Schools will not be involved in the initial process.

There may be a mop-up programme for those who have not been vaccinated which may involve schools. Although details are not yet confirmed, the NASUWT would expect the same arrangements to apply in Scotland as will apply in other parts of the UK, i.e. schools only providing a venue, not being directed involved in the process.

Updated guidance will be provided in due course.

Wales

In Wales, the process will vary depending on geographical location. In some areas, children will be vaccinated in vaccination centres and in schools in other areas. Information will be provided by local health boards on where vaccinations will be given.

Where vaccinations are given in schools, the NASUWT would expect the same approach to be taken as in England, with schools only used as the venue and not directly involved in the process.

The principle of informed consent will apply as it does now to other school vaccination programmes, such as the HPV vaccine. For school-based vaccinations, where there is a disagreement between the child and the parent, the school immunisation team should contact the parties to establish consent.

The following important considerations and expectations should apply to NASUWT members:

  • Teachers should not be required to play any part whatsoever in the actual vaccination process.

  • Schools’ involvement in supporting the implementation of vaccinations for 12-15-year-olds should not result in additional workloads for teachers.

  • As the vaccine programme is foreseeable, there should be no expectation for teachers to undertake cover for other colleagues as a result of a school’s participation in the vaccination programme.

  • If there is a disagreement between pupils and their parents, this is a matter for the vaccination team to address. The school and its staff must not become involved.

  • Some schools are reporting receiving threatening correspondence from certain groups. Any correspondence that is of concern, particularly if it threatens any form of violence, should be reported to headteacher/principal who should then inform the police. Headteachers/principals should discuss with their governing body/local authority any correspondence before making a response.

  • If it becomes apparent that a protest is likely/being planned, this should be reported to the vaccination team, local authority and the police.

If members have any concerns about their school’s organisation and implementation of the vaccination programme for 12-15-year-olds, please contact the NASUWT immediately.