Covid-19 vaccine

5 mins read

Shielding and disabled children must be prioritised for a licensed Covid vaccine - cartoon image of child with thumb up

Contact is campaigning for priority access to Covid-19 vaccines for the 61,800 clinically extremely vulnerable children across the UK.  Our campaign petition has already been signed by nearly 4000 families.

Although the medicines watchdog has now approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12-15 (on Friday 4 June) we are still awaiting guidance from the government’s vaccine committee (JCVI) before it can be rolled out.

Contact is urging the JCVI to give the green light to disabled youngsters to get the vaccine and to do so quickly.

Read our letter to the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) and their response to our campaign.

What this means for families

With no access to a Covid-19 vaccine, this means tens of thousands of families have no roadmap out of lockdown. Families feel forgotten; they want and need information on when a vaccine for children will be available.

Watch Noah, George and their families on BBC Breakfast News or listen to their interview on the Radio 4 Today programme (at 1.45)  on why disabled children need priority access to the vaccine.

Sara Meredith from Walsall, whose 6-year-old son Daniel has complex medical needs and is registered blind, says:

We’ve been shielding for a year and we feel like the forgotten vulnerable. I haven’t hugged my daughters for a year as we are shielding from them too. We’ve had no other carers in so I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. We want to know what the plan is for Daniel and children like him.

Sara Meredith

What families have told us

Our survey, conducted with 3000 families in March 2021, finds:

  • 86% of parents with disabled children have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine; 2 in 3 were offered as unpaid carers.
  • 70% want their shielding or disabled children to have a Covid-19 vaccine when it has been licensed for use in children.
  • 1 in 10 would like access to a Covid-19 vaccine unlicensed right now, but only 3 in every 200 parents that try have been successful in getting it unlicensed.

Watch the Lawrence and Hughes families talk to Channel 4 News about trying to get a Covid-19 vaccine unlicensed for their children.

Read the full survey findings

Getting the vaccine unlicensed (off-label)

Government guidance says in exceptional circumstances some children aged 12-15 with neuro-disabilities and at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 and becoming seriously ill, may be able to get the vaccine unlicensed (also called off-label) after talks between doctors and parents. 

Kelly Hughes from Crewkerne, whose 15-year-old daughter Sophie has Mitochondrial disorder, said: “We have been given the green light for an off-label Covid vaccine for Sophie and I can’t tell you what a relief it is. We’ve been shielding for over a year, and our younger daughter has been home learning throughout to protect Sophie. It has had a huge impact on all our lives. The unlicensed use of the vaccine gives us hope of being able to come out of shielding safely.”

However, there is no clear process for this which is leading to a lot of confusion over who is eligible for the vaccine in this way and who is responsible for signing it off. This inconsistent approach is leaving many families facing a very uncertain future and yet another battle.

Emma Lawrence from Brighton has been refused a vaccine for son Noah, aged 13, has health and respiratory complications.  She said: “We’ve always been able to fix things for Noah and this is proving the most difficult.”

Watch Emma on BBC South East Today talk about the challenge of getting the vaccine for Noah

Use parent Yvonne’s advice on getting a covid vaccine off-label

What we want

We are asking the government and the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) to:

  • Prioritise clinically extremely vulnerable children for Covid-19 vaccines when they are licensed for use in children.
  • Provide information on when a vaccine for clinically extremely vulnerable children will be rolled out.
  • Expand guidance on which children can get unlicensed use of the vaccine and set up a process on how families and doctors can get unlicensed use of Covid-19 vaccines.

Join our campaign by signing our petition

Sign our petition calling for vulnerable children to get the vaccine first

Unpaid carers added to vaccine priority list

Thank you to everyone who joined our campaign by signing our petition to ensure family carers are given the Covid vaccine as soon as possible.

We were delighted when it was announced on 30 December that the government’s expert committee on vaccines had revised its recommendations to include unpaid carers in priority group 6

We have written the JCVI urging them to amend existing guidance on ‘main’ unpaid carer to include all adults (including eligible young carers) regardless of the condition or disability of the child. This will offer the most protection to clinically vulnerable and disabled children until a vaccine for children is available.

For more information please see our vaccine questions and answers page.

Adults with learning disabilities added to Covid-19 vaccine priority list

More than 150,000 more people at higher risk being offered a jab more quickly. It follows DJ Jo Whiley’s calls for people such as her sister, Frances, to be vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

Adults on the learning disability register prioritised for Covid vaccine in England, Wales and Scotland | Contact

However, our survey shows only 58% of eligible disabled youngsters (over 16) have offered a Covid vaccine.  We hope this will improve by making vaccination centres and clinics more accessible and inclusive, for example by asking your GP to make a reasonable adjustment.   For more information please see our vaccine questions and answers page.

Celebrate getting your vaccine

Celebrate getting your covid jab with our Facebook profile picture frame