Pets and play helping young people get vaccinated this half term

This half term NHS staff are using creative initiatives to help vaccinate children aged between 12 and 15 and 5 to 11-year-olds who are at risk or live with someone who is immunosuppressed.

To help children stay calm during their  appointment, teams across the South West are doing something a little different and are using pets as therapy dogs at Salisbury City Hall and Home Park Vaccination Centres along with a sensory room at the King’s Park Vaccination Centre in Boscombe.

The initiatives are to create a comfortable environment for children and young adults whilst they receive their vaccination.


Fiona Hyett the Vaccination Centre Director at Salisbury City Hall Vaccination Centre said:

“We recognise that the idea of having a vaccination when you are really young can be an anxious time for both the child and parent.

“Having pet therapy dogs on site has really helped provide comfort and distraction for the youngest children as they are being vaccinated. It has helped them be the superhero’s that they are.”

Invitations are being sent to parents of eligible 12 to 15-year-olds reminding them to come forward for their vaccine. Children in this age group can book an appointment this half term via the National Booking System website, by calling 119 or by finding a local walk in clinic.

Five to 11-year-olds who are at risk or live with someone who is immunosuppressed can now book an appointment via a local booking system. Those eligible will receive an invite letter that will detail how to book an appointment with either a local GP practice or at another vaccination site. This group are unable to book via the National Booking System.


Dr Julie Yates, Lead Consultant for Screening and Immunisation for NHS England and NHS Improvement South West, said: 

“Covid-19 continues to pose a risk to everyone, but especially to those who are at risk due to underlying health conditions.

“The vaccine will protect those aged 5 to 11 and are at most risk, as well as protecting those who are household contacts of immunosuppressed.

“Appointments for this group need to be booked locally, so please book as soon as you receive a letter.”

Clinically at-risk 12 to 15-year-olds or those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed are also entitled to their booster three months after their two primary doses, with those who are severely immunosuppressed able to get their booster after a third primary dose.

Parents and guardians are asked to attend vaccination sites with their children and are asked to read the patient information in advance of arriving for their appointment.

Young people who have had Covid-19 must wait 12 weeks until they can be vaccinated, in line with JCVI guidance.

Since the programme started vaccination teams across the South West have administered more than 12.5 million Covid-19 vaccinations.