Covid vaccine: One of first schoolchildren to get jab 'excited' to spend time with grandparents

Schoolchildren spoke about being among the first in the 12-15 age group to receive the Covid vaccine, ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry reports

One schoolboy spoke about being "excited" to see his grandparents after getting one of the first Covid-19 jabs for children and another said he was looking forward to enjoying himself when he goes out.

The teens were among the first 12- to 15-year-olds in England to receive the Pfizer jab as the vaccination programme was rolled out to everyone in the age group.

The vaccines are expected to be delivered primarily within schools by local School Age Immunisation Services.

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Quinn Foakes, 15, from Belfairs Academy secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, said he was looking forward to spending more time with his grandparents.

'I've got grandparents, I'd love to be safe around them and spend time with them,' says Quinn Foakes, 15

He told ITV News: "I was pretty nervous at first but once I got it done it was all good and I'm glad that I've done it."

He explained: "I've got grandparents, I'd love to be safe around them and spend time wth them and be safe around my home."

He said his parents supported his decision to get jabbed, "because why not?"

The pupil said learning at home during the pandemic had been “really hard” and he had previously had to isolate.

He said: "It hasn't really helped with my GCSEs coming up this year but with my jab, hopefully, we'll be able to stay in school and learn to our full potentital, which I'm happy with."

Mum Janine Lilleker, 44, who is also a teacher at the school, said: "Quinn and his friends, they just want to be back in school - although they never thought they'd say that, that's something that they really want."

But she admitted: "I'd be fibbing if I didn't say that we had contemplated the pros and cons. And myself and my other friends, who've got children at a similar age, we've all spoken about it. And obviously people have different opinions and views.

"But it was something that I thought: well, it's the way forward and this country has seen a big change in how we've been able to move forward, and I feel it's the next step.

A pharmacist prepares the vaccine. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

"My son and his friends, their education was impacted. We really feel like we're starting to move on, the bubbles have closed. I just want him to move on with his schooling.

"He's in a really important year, so for me, it's a bit of a no-brainer."

She said arranging for her 15-year-old son to get the jab was easier than booking vaccine appointments for herself and other adults.

She explained the family received an email explaining how the vaccine was available for her son. They just had to click on a link, tick some boxes and the whole experience took "two minutes".

'It makes it easier to go out and enjoy myself now,' says Jack Lane, 14

Fellow pupil Jack Lane, 14, who was also vaccinated on Monday, said: "It was ok. I'm happy I've got it as it makes it easier to go out and enjoy myself now."

He added that the only fear he had was the needle.

Speaking about whether his parents supported his choice, he said: "They are both double jabbed so they were happy for me to come and have it. So no argument."

He said his friends are also happy with the vaccine and that he had not experienced too much of a disruption from school due to the introduction of virtual lessons.

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Johan Zweistra, the school’s vice principal, said there had been “significant uptake” by children with consent from their parents.

He said the school has put two days aside for vaccinations and he hopes to get the majority of jabs done in that time.

In England, schools and providers are sending out letters to parents with information on the Covid vaccine.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “The vaccine is safe and effective and I would urge families to work closely with their schools based vaccination team to get their loved ones vaccinated when they are invited to protect themselves and their families ahead of the winter period.”

Jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds are also beginning in Scotland and Wales this week.

Young people in this age group in Scotland can go to drop-in clinics or wait for a letter offering them an appointment.

For children in Wales, the vaccinations will be carried out at mass vaccination centres and some school settings.

In Northern Ireland, the head of the region’s vaccination programme said the vaccines are likely to be offered to pupils in that age group in schools from October.