Pfizer Vaccine 12 – 15 years – FAQ
Why are you offering a covid vaccination to 12-15 year olds?
The good news is that most cases of corona virus infection in children result in a milder illness than adults. Ongoing research is showing us that long covid complications are not as common in children as we once thought.
What we do know is that 12-15 year olds can carry the virus and pass this onto household and social contacts. If the household contacts have a long term illness or are elderly then there is a risk that this younger age group could pass on infections to the wider community. This is a specific consideration for Gibraltar where we know that there is a real strength of community.
The vaccine is working well against the Delta variant (the most common strain at the moment) in preventing hospital admissions and severe illness and this is why we are offering a booster dose to the over 50 year olds.
We also know that some children are missing school as a result of testing positive for covid.
To try reduce the amount of virus we have still circulating in our community, and the chances of spread to those most vulnerable, we are offering vaccinations to 12-15 year olds.
The Pfizer mRNA vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 with partial immunization (≥14 days after first dose but before second dose) is around 80%.
The decision to provide children 12 – 15 years a single dose is in view the risk/ benefits gained. A single dose has a greater impact on reducing hospital/ intensive care admissions in the wider community whilst having fewer reports of vaccine risk (namely myocarditis).Thus the 1 dose is effective for achieving what it intends to- being effective against the circulating Delta variant, reducing the pool of local infection and providing more protection for the most vulnerable and elderly.
Will children with underlying illness or living with someone who is immunosuppressed be offered 2 vaccines?
Yes, any children with underlying conditions that put them at risk for COVID-19, or those living with someone who is immunosuppressed, will be offered 2 doses of the vaccine.
The most common side effect being reported is having a sore arm at the injections site that normally gets better after a few days.
In the trials that have been running, the most frequently reported wider reactions in participants were tiredness, headache, muscle aches, chills, joint pain and a raised temperature. These symptoms were usually mild to moderate and resolved within a few days after vaccination. If required, treatment with paracetamol-containing products can be used.
Worldwide there have been rare cases of myocarditis or pericarditis which is an inflammation of the heart. This is more common in the younger age groups receiving the vaccine especially after the second dose. Having reviewed this very carefully we are reassured that most cases are mild, do not result in the need for hospital treatment and recovery is within a few days.
Our conclusion is that the vaccine is safe for this age group and we will be offering one dose of the vaccine. We will continue to monitor the reporting of side effects very closely, as we do for all vaccination programs.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 12 years of age and older, including people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.
There is currently no evidence shows that any COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men.
I have seen in the media that JCVI said not to vaccinate 12-15 year olds and now you are offering them to this age group. Why?
The JCVI (Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Infections) in the UK were asked to review the evidence for vaccinating this age group based upon a very narrow question of direct benefits to the individual.
We are offering these vaccinations to this age group in order to both reduce the amount of time being off school having tested positive for covid and to protect and benefit the wider community. By this we mean in terms of reducing the pool of infection and providing more protection for the most vulnerable and elderly. The other reason we are offering this is to try and reduce the amount of time children are missing from school as a result of having covid infection.
The vaccines do not contain any living organism and are safe for the vast majority of people. A small number of people may be ineligible for vaccination including people who have severe allergic reactions to medicines or vaccines.
There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody.
Your child may still be vaccinated, but this must be 4 weeks from previous COVID-19 infection (from date of onset of symptoms or date of positive swab). The immunity people get from being vaccinated after having a natural infection is consistently very strong. Getting vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19 means you are more likely to be protected for longer.
No you cannot catch Covid-19 from the vaccine. But it is possible to have caught Covid-19 in the few days before vaccination and not realise until after you have been vaccinated. The vaccine takes about 21 days to have an effect and create antibodies that protect you from infection.
Once offered an appointment, it is important all children attend promptly, as there is a very busy schedule. It is even more important that should they be unable to attend the appointment is cancelled so that it can be offered to someone else, and so that the vaccines do not go to waste. There is no guarantee that if an appointment is missed there will be an allocation later, however, there is the possibility of being added to a future waiting list.
There is no reason to postpone vaccination for any minor illnesses, particularly without fever. If your child is acutely unwell, for example on antibiotics for a current chest infection, then vaccination should be postponed until they have fully recovered; this avoids any confusion regarding signs or symptoms that may be considered adverse effects of the vaccine.
Civil contingencies are currently exploring the digital platform as proof of vaccination. However we have not been provided a timeline on this as yet. At present, the single dose is not applicable as proof of full vaccination for travel certification purposes. However, below 18 years old children are not required to be vaccinated for travel purposes anyway.
Has there been any problems related to body organs (e.g. the kidney) after receiving the Covid vaccine?
The COVID-19 pandemic is on-going and research continues to be carried out and guidance updated accordingly. Based on current guidance:
The Green Book states the most common side effects include injection site pain (>80%), fatigue (>60%), and headache (>50%). Muscle pains and chills/ fever are also likely (in 10-20% of cases).
A few short term systemic effects are noted, including fatigue in 4% and headache in 2%. Myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, is witnessed in 3-17 people per million following the first dose; this seems to affect more males and those under 25 years. However, a US study suggests having Covid-19 could be six times more likely to trigger myocarditis in young men than the vaccine, with a rate of about 450 per million infections.
There appears to be some relationship between the vaccine and sugar regulation within the body (receptors in the pancreas) but the extent to which this plays a role is yet to be determined.
No reports currently indicate any issues with the kidneys.
Generally, medical consensus is that getting vaccinated will produce milder and shorter illness compared to those contracting the virus naturally.
My child is 11 years old and they have received an invitation to be vaccinated, what does it mean if I consent to vaccination?
Currently only children aged 12 years and over are eligible for vaccination. If you child is due to turn 12 within the school academic year they will not be included in the current program but be eligible for the Primary Care Public vaccination program. See the GHA website for more information about registering interest HERE.
COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines, such as the MMR or influenza vaccine, may be given on the same day. The Shingles vaccine is advised to be taken a week apart from the COVID-19 vaccine. General practice involves time delays and/or variations in the site of vaccination (one arm then another) for differing vaccines given; this helps to identify which vaccine may be involved should any side effects be seen.
Physical activity may continue after vaccination, though readiness will likely be down to how your individual child feels.
My children have received their one vaccine dose. Does this mean they no longer have to complete pre-departure COVID-19 tests before arrival into Gibraltar?
Pre-departure COVID-19 testing is still required for children aged 12 years and above who are not fully vaccinated (2 doses). Lateral flow testing is also required within 24 hours of arrival to Gibraltar for all passengers (irrespective of vaccination status).
Yes. One designated guardian is able to accompany per child if they wish to.
The decision to offer vaccines to the 12-15 year old age group is exactly that, an offer. It is important that you carefully consider the benefits and risks of taking up the offer of any vaccination as part of the informed consent process. We would encourage you to talk about this together as families and do some reading around of the topic. We have developed a FAQ that includes signposting to additional information that you may find helpful in having these discussions.
Listed below are a range of sources of information that you may find helpful to enable you to do this. Some are quite technical and this is because some families may want to explore information to a greater depth than others. Please do remember that there are sources of misinformation on social media and the internet.
- Public Health England leaflet on 12-15 vaccinations
- JCVI statement on vaccinations
- Green Book chapter on vaccinations (aimed at health professionals as a guide regarding vaccine administration)
- World Health Organisation
- Long covid study in children
My child has COVID-19 at present; are they still eligible for vaccination?
Any children who have had to miss their appointment due to a current COVID-19 infection are not eligible for a vaccine at this time – the minimum wait between vaccine and infection is 4 weeks. They will need to wait for the next program to be rolled out.
I am worried that my child may have been missed; what should I do?
If your child has missed their COVID-19 vaccine, please wait for updates of the date and venue of the next one.