How many doses of the Covid vaccine should my disabled child get?

5 mins read

Monday 25 October 2021

Tags: covid, vaccination, coronavirus, JCVI

With news that all children aged 12-15 qualify for a Covid vaccine being announced alongside significant updates to children’s clinical risk groups, autumnal booster jab eligibility and third doses, there is understandable confusion over what each child or parent carer is entitled to.

This confusion has extended to medical professionals themselves, as we’ve heard ongoing reports of parents being told their vulnerable child can’t get the vaccine dosage they’re entitled to.

Many parents have told Contact that their child was turned down for a second jab despite qualifying for multiple doses under the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)’s expanded list of underlying health conditions.

What vaccine dosage can my child get and how do they book it?

Ages 12 to 17

Healthy children (not part of a clinical risk group)

Healthy children aged 12-17 in the UK are eligible for a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Healthy 16- and 17-year-olds can use the national online booking service, find a walk-in vaccination centre or wait to be invited by to a local NHS service. There is no need to wait for an invitation if they want to book now.

Healthy 12-15-year-olds can also use the national online booking service, but parental consent must be given before your child receives the vaccine. You can either complete a consent form or give your consent at the appointment. They might also receive their vaccine in school.

Children within clinical risk groups

12-17 year olds who are considered clinically vulnerable, or who live with individuals of any age who are immunosuppressed, should get two doses at least eight weeks apart. In England, around 350,000 children are eligible for two jabs.

These children will be sent a letter inviting them to arrange their vaccines at a local NHS service, such as the GP. If you think your child is eligible for a second vaccine but they don’t receive an invitation, speak to your GP.

Clinically vulnerable 16-17 year olds can also get both doses at a walk-in vaccination centre, or book their first vaccine using the national online booking service and take their invitation letter for a second vaccine to a walk-in vaccination centre.

What if my eligible child is refused a second vaccine?

Despite these guidelines, parents of vulnerable children have reported being unable to arrange a second jab due to miscommunication over the different dosage requirements.

If this happens to you, we recommend speaking to your child’s GP or clinician who was responsible for arranging their first jab. Refer them to page 17 of the government’s Green Book guidance, which states: “Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years who are in recognised risk groups… should receive their second dose at an interval of at least eight weeks. A decision on when to offer the second dose to healthy children and young people is pending further evidence on the safety of a second dose in this age group.”

Page 19 of the Green Book outlines which conditions form part of recognised risk groups.

If your child’s GP is unable to help, speak to your local Clinical Commissioning Group or visit your local hospital hub, walk-in centre or vaccination site for assistance with arranging their second jab.

Some children who are immunosuppressed may not mount a full immune response to two doses of the vaccine and are therefore eligible for a third shot, ideally at least 8 weeks after the second jab.


Young people aged over 18 (or who are turning 18 within three months) can get a first and second dose of the vaccine.

To book a vaccine in England, use the national online booking service. Your young person can book both vaccines at the same time, although they must be eight to 12 weeks apart.

They can also find a walk-in vaccination centre. If they do this, they should book the second vaccine online.

The GP might also contact your young person about getting a vaccine, but there is no need to wait for this.

What about parent carers?

Unpaid carers in the UK have started being offered a Covid booster jab from September. This includes adults who receive Carer’s Allowance or those who are the primary carer of a disabled person of any age who is considered clinically vulnerable.

The booster should be given at least six months after a person had their second dose. People will be offered either a full dose of the Pfizer vaccine or a half-dose of the Moderna vaccine, regardless of which jab you originally had.

  • Carers in England can now book their booster jab via the NHS online booking portal.
  • In Wales, eligible individuals will be contacted directly when it is their turn.
  • Unpaid carers in Scotland will be able to book an appointment via the online portal soon, after which letters will be issued to anyone in eligible groups who haven’t booked an appointment online.
  • In Northern Ireland, the booster programme has started with residents and staff in care homes. Unpaid carers are expected to be contacted by their GPs in due time.

For more information on the Covid-19 vaccination programme, take a look at our FAQs.