Clinically vulnerable children start to get invited for vaccine

4 mins read

Tuesday 17 August 2021

The NHS has written to local health networks asking that clinically vulnerable children are vaccinated before school starts in September.

We understand that the NHS is still trying to get Covid vaccination invitations out to eligible 12-15 year olds by 23 August.

As well as encouraging GPs to identify patients, the NHS asks local practices to consider self-referrals from parents of children. In a recent letter from the NHS to GPs and primary care networks (PCNS), it says: “We ask that all practices identify eligible patients by 19 August 2021 to enable vaccination before school term starts in September.  

“We recognise that not all eligible 12–15-year-olds may be identified through the GP record. Therefore, any approach by parents of children at increased risk should be considered and clinical judgement used around eligibility in line with JCVI advice.

“In addition, health trusts may refer 12–15-year-olds for a Covid-19 vaccination if they consider them to be eligible.”  

We know parents have been frustrated in recent days as some have not yet received invites for vaccinations. But our understanding is that invites will be sent out in the coming days and before 23 August.

What should I do if I think my child is eligible for a vaccine?

If you haven’t heard anything by the 23 August, you should contact your GP or clinician and ask them to arrange a vaccine for your child. 

If you are unsure if your child is eligible for a vaccine you should discuss this with their GP or clinician. GPs and clinicians are advised to use their clinical judgement when deciding if a child is at increased risk and therefore eligible for a vaccine.

What to do if your GPs isn’t vaccinating children

If your GP isn’t giving vaccinations to children themselves, they still need to identify all eligible children by 19 August in order to arrange a vaccine for your child at a local vaccination centre, specialist vaccine clinic or hospital.

Some parents have suggested asking your GP or clinician to write a letter to say your child is eligible which you can then take to your local vaccination centre, make sure your doctor includes this sentence in their letter: “In line with current guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) I can confirm that (name of child) is eligible for a covid vaccination immediately.”

Read more about the COVID vaccine for children and young people on our FAQ page. 

How things are working locally

GPs in some areas have signed up to deliver the Covid vaccine to children and young people via their primary care network (PCNs), but in other areas the GPs have ‘opted out’. 

But even GPs ‘opting out’ of vaccinating children must still search their records to identify eligible children and pass this information on to the local health trust or commissioners to arrange appointments. They have been told to do this “soon as possible”.

For example, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, where no GPs will be vaccinating children, the local health trust has organised specialist vaccination clinics for children. They did this with help from the local authority, short breaks team, parent carer forum and special schools. These children will start receiving their first Covid vaccine on Saturday. 

We have also heard that children in contact with hospital services may receive ‘opportunistic’ vaccination in a specialist settings where children and their parents/carers can discuss their individual needs, as long as hospitals have completed their readiness check before vaccinating.