Young people and the Covid-19 vaccine
This resource offers key information about the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination for teens and young adults affected by mental health problems, including those with severe mental illness, and their family and carers.
Living through the pandemic has been difficult and we have all been impacted in some way. However, the Covid-19 vaccines are an important breakthrough that will help protect us and bring us a step closer to living our normal lives again.
While many are feeling positive about getting the vaccine, others may be feeling worried or anxious about it. If you feel this way, you should know that is completely understandable and you are not alone. We have put together some up-to-date information and tips to reassure you and help you get your jab. The information on this page is based on the latest available guidance from NHS England.
About the Covid-19 vaccine
- The Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and give you the best protection against coronavirus. Getting fully vaccinated is vital to protecting ourselves, our friends, and families.
- Millions of people around the country have already had at least one vaccine to reduce the risk of becoming seriously unwell with Covid-19 and to help prevent spreading it to others.
- The coronavirus vaccine is free of charge. The NHS will not charge you for a vaccination and will not ask you for your bank details.
Am I eligible?
If you are aged 16 or 17, you will be offered a first dose of the vaccine. Your local NHS will let you know if you need a second dose.
Everybody over the age of 18 and those over 12 who have specific underlying health conditions (listed here) will be offered two doses of the vaccine to ensure maximum and lasting protection. These are provided approximately 8 to 12 weeks apart. This includes:
- Young people over the age of 16 with severe mental illness such as an eating disorder or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes serious impairment
- Children over the age of 12 who have underlying health conditions or severe neurodisabilities.
What vaccine can I have?
All young people will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines as clinical trials show that these are the safest vaccines for children and young people.
Booking your vaccine
You can book your vaccine easily through the National Booking Service here.
Covid-19 vaccines are now being offered through a range of settings. You may be invited to have your vaccination at:
- A hospital
- Your GP surgery
- A vaccination centre
- A pharmacy.
All the staff who work in these settings are really friendly, supportive and can help answer any questions you might have.
There are also walk-in clinics and pop-up centres where you can go without an appointment.
Some people are invited to receive the vaccine through their GP or local NHS services. They will usually send you a text message or a letter with instructions on how to book.
If you have a carer, they will be able to book on your behalf if you need them to. They can also attend the appointment with you for support.
You will receive a booking reference number when you book which you will need to take with you on the day.
All vaccination centres are Covid-19 safe and cleaned regularly. People will be socially distanced, and you will need to wear a mask, unless you are exempt.
What happens on the day?
On the day, it’s important to remember to bring your mask and your booking reference number with you.
Upon arrival, you may be asked to complete a form about your medical history and to give your consent to receiving the vaccine.
Your appointment will usually last between 30 to 45 minutes. You will be asked to wait 15 minutes following your vaccination, in the unlikely event you have a serious allergic reaction, which is very rare.
You can find out more about getting the vaccine through these resources from Public Health England.
What if I need support on the day?
If you need support attending on the day, your parent, carer, or a trusted adult can join you. They may also be able to get the vaccine at the same time if they still need to.
If you need any specific support or reasonable adjustments to make it possible to get your vaccination, please ask for them when booking your appointment. Examples include:
- A longer appointment time or one later in the day
- Somewhere quiet to sit while you wait for your appointment
- Asking if a carer/friend/peer support worker could accompany you to your appointment
- If you are housebound and not able to travel to a place that provides vaccinations
- If you need a sign-language service
- If you need a translator
- If you have accessibility requirements.
After the vaccine
Some people may have mild discomfort after getting the vaccine. This might include soreness in the arm, tiredness, or aches. These don’t usually last for very long. Your vaccinator might advise you to take paracetamol to help with side effects.
The first vaccine dose takes about two to three weeks to take effect. People who have received the vaccine need to continue to practise social distancing and comply with all the current regulations.
If you need a second dose, it’s important you get it so that you are fully protected. When you go for your first vaccine, you will be told if you need a second dose and how to book it.
To find out more about the vaccination visit the NHS website.
The NHS has produced guides in a range of languages; find them here.
None of the approved vaccines contains any animal product or egg. This means they are safe for people who are vegetarian or vegan, including people who do not have animal products on religious grounds.
Information on the vaccine for children and young people from Public Health England can be found here, including information on safety and common side effects. They have also produced easy-read versions of these resources.
NHS England have produced videos and information about the vaccines for people with a learning disability and carers.
To find out more about the Covid-19 vaccination for people living with severe mental illness, Equally Well UK have produced a guide on what to expect from the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Rethink Mental Illness have more information on their Covid-19 vaccination page.
If you require mental health support, advice, or information
- Every Mind Matters can help with expert advice, practical tips and personalised actions to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing
- For more information on mental health – including how to get help if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis – visit nhs.uk/mentalhealth
- If you're feeling worried or anxious about getting your Covid-19 vaccine, the charity Mind have shared some helpful tips.
- If you’re worried about Covid-19, the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition have a range of resources which offer advice and information.
- Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, anonymous text support service. You can text from wherever you are in the UK if you need someone to talk to.
- The Mix offer information and advice for young people on everything from homelessness to finding a job, from money to mental health.
- Student Space offers students in higher education expert information and advice to help you through the challenges of coronavirus.
- BEAT eating disorders offers support and advice on Covid-19, which includes a chat room for anyone with concerns.
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