Covid: 16 and 17-year-olds in England to be offered jab by 23 August

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

All 16 and 17-year-olds in England will be offered a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine from Monday 23 August, the Department of Health has announced.

The health secretary said offering vaccines by this date would allow teenagers to get some protection before starting school or college next month.

Young people in this age group were first offered a jab earlier this month.

But unlike older age groups, no second dose is being scheduled.

Invitations are also being sent out in Wales, while older teenagers in Northern Ireland can use walk-in centres. In Scotland, older teens can register their interest online.

About 100,000 texts are being sent to eligible teenagers inviting them to book their jabs. They will be able to get vaccinated at one of more than 800 GP-led local vaccination sites.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people not to delay, adding: "Get your jabs as soon as you can so we can continue to safely live with this virus and enjoy our freedoms by giving yourself, your family and your community the protection they need."

Teenagers who are within three months of turning 18 can book an appointment online through the National Booking Service or calling 119.

Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 or who live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus are also being contacted by the NHS and invited for a first vaccine dose by 23 August, ahead of the new school year.

The government said it was working closely with the NHS “to make it as easy as possible to get a vaccine”, including through “grab a jab” pop-up vaccine sites across the country, such as the London-based nightclub Heaven, as well as football stadiums and festivals.

A media campaign to encourage young people to get vaccinated has included short films with actors such as Jim Broadbent and Thandiwe Newton, and football figures Harry Redknapp and Chris Kamara.

Experts have warned that high levels of coronavirus infection and rising case rates mean the UK is on 'high alert' when it comes to managing the spread of the disease.

The National Education Union said the vaccinations of 16- and 17-year-olds would help reduce disruption to education in the next academic year, but said additional safety measures needed to continue in schools.

The union's joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said: "With the autumn and winter terms coming up, the issue of crowded schools with no social distancing and inadequate ventilation remains a problem."

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS medical director of primary care and deputy lead for the vaccination programme in England, said more than a quarter of a million under-18s had had a first jab.

“Now as teenagers prepare to head back to school or college or into their first full-time jobs, once again NHS staff are doing everything they can to offer young people the lifesaving vaccine as quickly as possible to protect themselves and others,” she said.

Those aged 16 and above do not need their parents’ consent to get a vaccine as they are legally considered capable of making decisions about their own medical treatment.

The latest data shows that 70% of people aged 18 to 29 in England had received a first dose of vaccine up to 11 August.

The rate of new cases of the virus is currently rising in all four nations, suggesting the sharp fall in Covid-19 cases that had been underway since mid-July has now come to an end.