An Essex schoolboy has become one of the first children in England aged between 12 and 15 to receive a Covid-19 jab as the vaccination is rolled out to three million eligible youngsters across the UK.
Quinn Foakes, 15, was given the Pfizer vaccination at Belfairs Academy secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Monday as the programme began in England.
It is expected to be delivered primarily within schools, and guidance has been issued to headteachers to contact police if they believe protests could be held outside their buildings.
Jabs are being delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services, as is the case with the flu and HPV vaccines.
Quinn said: “I was nervous at first but in the long run it’s going to be good because I can keep safe near my family and with my grandparents.
“I can go near them, I’m really excited to be around them.”
The pupil said that learning at home during the pandemic had been “really hard” and he had previously had to isolate.
“Now that I’ve got my jab I can stay in school and learn – with my GCSEs coming up it’s going to be really good,” he said.
His mother Janine Lilleker, 44, who is a teacher at the school, said: “Their education has been hindered since Covid and by getting their vaccination done it’s a way of them protecting themselves and also protecting the wider community of the school.
“We’ve had our vaccines done as parents so why not my son.”
Fellow pupil Jack Lane, 14, who was also vaccinated on Monday, said: “I was happy to have it because it stops the risk of becoming more ill from going outside.
“It makes it easier and less worrying to go out.
“Despite hating needles I’d rather have it done and get it out of the way.”
Johan Zweistra, the school’s vice principal, said there had been “significant uptake” by children with permission of their parents.
He said the school has put two days aside for vaccinations and that they hope to get the majority of jabs done in that time.
Across England, consent letters are being sent out to parents and guardians with information on the Covid-19 vaccination.
Families do not need to contact the NHS to arrange their child’s vaccine, schools and providers will be in touch.
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.”
The rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds is also beginning in Scotland and Wales this week.
Young people in this age bracket in Scotland can go to drop-in clinics or wait for a letter offering them a scheduled appointment.
Jabs for children in Wales will be carried out at mass vaccination centres and some school settings.
In Northern Ireland, the head of the region’s vaccination programme said jabs are likely to be offered to children aged 12 to 15 in schools from October.