Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the publication of detailed guidance for young people and parents on school age Covid vaccination.

Pupils aged 12-15 years old are to be offered a single Covid vaccine dose in the coming weeks, in line with the joint recommendation of the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers.

Guidance materials for both young people and parents/guardians are now available on the Public Health Agency website: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/northern-ireland-covid-19-vaccination-programme/covid-19-vaccination-0

The Health Minister encouraged parents to talk with their children about Covid vaccination – as well as about flu vaccination which is also being provided in schools.

The Minister said: “Vaccinating 12-15-year-olds against Covid protects them against the virus and the disruption which it can bring to their lives and their education.

“It is a voluntary programme and it is really important that the young people and their parents make an informed choice. The information now published by the PHA is vital in that regard.”

Mr Swann continued: “Parental consent will be sought ahead of vaccination teams visiting schools – so parents should keep an eye out for the consent forms that will be coming home in schoolbags.

“There will be rare occasions when parents and their children do not agree on vaccination. Our experienced school vaccination teams have well-established processes to deal with such eventualities and will seek to talk the situation through with parents and the young people.”

The Health Minister has separately confirmed that the more focused approach to contact tracing that has been introduced in schools has been extended to certain out of school settings. The approach, introduced in schools in September, means that only those school aged children who have had the very closest contact with a confirmed case are asked to isolate.

This focused approach is also now being applied to school aged children in structured and supervised settings where organisers are expected to have mitigations in place. These settings include: registered group childcare providers, further and higher education campuses, sports and dancing activities, youth clubs, uniformed youth organisations, and church and music groups.

Every effort is being made to offer vaccinations to 12-15 year olds as soon as possible. In addition to the school based programme, other opportunities for this age group to get their jab are being planned for later this month.

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