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‘I was pretty nervous at first’: COVID jabs rollout reaches 12 to 15-year-olds

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Children aged between 12 and 15 have started receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Up to three million youngsters are eligible for coronavirus jabs across the UK.

Quinn Foakes, 15, was one of the first children in England to get the vaccine. Speaking after receiving his jab at Belfairs Academy secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, he said: “I was pretty nervous at first but once I’d got it done it was all good and I’m glad that I’ve done it.

Quinn Foakes, 15, receives his vaccine at Belfairs Academy in Leighton-on-Sea
Image: Quinn Foakes, 15, received his vaccine at Belfairs Academy in Leighton-on-Sea

“Where I’ve got grandparents I’d love to be safe around them and spend time with them and be safe around my home.”

He said his parents wanted him to get jabbed “because it’s safer and it will be a moment in history”.

Quinn said said 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 added.

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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.”

Schoolchildren receive their jabs at Belfairs Academy in Leighton-on-Sea
Image: Up to three million youngsters are eligible for coronavirus jabs across the UK

The programme will primarily be delivered within schools and headteachers have been advised to contact police if they fear protests over the jabs could be held outside their buildings.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said last week that it was aware some schools had received campaign letters and emails with “misinformation” about the vaccine programme.

“In the event of a protest or disruptive activity outside a school, or if schools know a protest is planned, they should alert the SAIS (School Age Immunisation Service) provider, local authority and police contacts to discuss the best way to manage the situation.”

Schoolchildren receive their jabs at Belfairs Academy in Leighton-on-Sea
Image: The vaccination programme will primarily be delivered within schools

Heads and teachers have been advised “not to engage directly” with misinformation campaigns about the vaccine but instead “acknowledge receipt of concerns” and “refer to the latest scientific guidance on the issue” if necessary.

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.”

Children in England will be offered jabs at some schools from Monday, while the rollout will begin in Scotland and Wales later this week.

The head of Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme said jabs will likely be offered to children aged 12 to 15 in schools from October.

It comes as a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial for children aged between five and 11 produced “positive results” and showed a “robust immune response”, according to the two firms.

They said the results would “provide a strong foundation” for seeking the authorisation of its potential rollout across the world in order to prevent COVID-19 in younger age groups.