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|Young teens in the Midlands are being urged to get vaccinated as latest figures show that over 200,000 remain unprotected from COVID-19 in the region.
NHS teams are set to visit over 300 schools in the Midlands this month, making it convenient for pupils aged 12 to 15 to get their vaccines in school.
In the East Midlands 64% (140,762) of 12–15-year-olds on average have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 31% (69,008) are now double jabbed.
Over 60% on average (168,304) of 12–15-year-olds in the West Midlands have received a first dose and 27% (72,598) have now had their second dose.
During the half-term holidays, NHS initiatives to vaccinate young people included the use of therapy dog, Ruby, to calm nerves in Nottingham, special displays of superheroes and princesses in Worcester and a mini toy town in the Black Country.
12-15 year olds can still attend vaccination clinics throughout the Midlands out of school hours.
While school children have faced significant disruption to their education due to the pandemic, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – independent experts who advise on vaccinations – have advised a second COVID vaccination three months on from their first which offers the best protection against the virus for this age group, ensuring they are protected and helping to keep them in school.
While most children infected usually have mild symptoms from COVID-19, some do become quite ill and some go on to develop more serious symptoms. This includes ‘long COVID’ which has side-effects such as extreme fatigue and weakness. While doctors are still learning about these long-term effects, it is clear that vaccination protects against the damage they can do.
In addition, vaccination will help protect children and young people from any potential future variants of COVID-19.
A report from the National Audit Office released recently found that the NHS vaccination programme has helped to save lives and reduce hospital admissions, meeting “stretching and unprecedented targets” – all while making effective use of public money.
Roz Lindridge, the NHS England and NHS Improvement director responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme across the Midlands, said:
“Vaccines remain our first line of defence against the virus, So, getting jabbed is one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and our communities as we learn to live with COVID-19. This is why local NHS teams will be visiting over 300 more schools this month, making it easier for pupils to get protected.
“We know that people can get COVID again and again and even if it doesn’t make them seriously ill, there’s still the risk of Long COVID or developing further complications.
“The NHS vaccination programme has proved pivotal in reducing the risk of severe infection and hospitalisations and the best step that people can take is to get vaccinated as we learn to live with the virus. It’s never too late to get started on your course of vaccinations if you’ve not already done so.”
Across the Midlands there is an ‘evergreen’ offer for COVID-19 vaccinations meaning anyone who has not yet been vaccinated is able to come forward at any time to start their vaccinations.
In line with national guidance, consent letters are sent out to parents and guardians prior to the school clinics with information on the COVID-19 vaccination. Parents and guardians are asked to attend vaccination sites with their children if they are getting jabbed outside of school, and consent will be sought on the day.
Children who have had COVID must wait 12 weeks after infection until they can be vaccinated, in line with JCVI guidance.
Clinically at-risk 12 to 15-year-olds or those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed are also entitled to a booster three months after their two primary doses, with those who are severely immunosuppressed able to get their booster after a third primary dose.