Patient care & support

NHS to GPs: vaccinate vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds before school starts

The NHS has written to all GPs and Primary Care Network (PCN)-led vaccination sites urging them to identify 12 to 15-year-olds with specific underlying health conditions as soon as possible, so they can be offered the vaccine before the school term starts in September. Under the criteria, most boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) are eligible, as well as any siblings 12 or over. If your children are eligible, Duchenne UK recommends you contact your GP with a copy of the letter to ensure they are identified for vaccination.

On Friday 13 August, Dr Nikita Kanani of the COVID-19 Vaccination Deployment Programme wrote to all GPs and PCN-led vaccination sites. The letter listed a series of actions they must take to help identify eligible 12 to 15-year-olds (cohort 13) by 19 August to ensure they are offered a COVID19 vaccination appointment by 23 August.

“...we need all GP practices to run local searches to ensure that this small group of patients is offered the opportunity to receive their COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. We ask that all practices identify eligible patients by 19 August 2021 to enable vaccination before school term starts in September.”

Eligibility for vaccination is defined by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), and you can find the criteria for 12 to 15-year-olds on page 17 of their Green Book. Most boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) 12-years-old and above will fall under the definition of ‘immunosuppression due to disease or treatment‘.

“...individuals treated with or likely to be treated with systemic steroids for more than a month at a dose equivalent to prednisolone at 20mg per day (or for children under 20kg body weight a dose of 1mg/kg or more per day).”

The JCVI also recommends that anyone aged 12 years and above who expects to share living accommodation on most days with immunosuppressed people is also vaccinated. This will include siblings of young people with DMD.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one approved for people aged 12-17 years-old, and the JCVI recommends that immunosuppressed young people and their household contacts receive two doses, 8 weeks apart. Healthy 16 to 17-year-olds are recommended a single dose for now.

The NHS summary of vaccinating children and young people

Duchenne UK (DUK) co-founder and CEO of Joining Jack, Alex Johnson, has ensured that her son Jack has been vaccinated, and Duchenne UK are urging other parents to do the same.

Jack Johnson after his vaccination

In addition to immunosuppressed children, the JCVI also recommends that household contacts of vulnerable adults are vaccinated. GPs and PCN-led vaccination sites should send this template letter to severely immunosuppressed adults to recommend that any 12-15 year olds they live with should receive the vaccine.

The NHS recognises that eligible 12 to 15-year-olds may not be identifiable through their GP record, and recommends GPs welcome approaches by parents, and follow JCVI guidance.

“...any approach by parents of children at increased risk should be considered and clinical judgement used around eligibility in line with JCVI advice.”

Even if they are eligible for vaccination, people under 16 currently cannot go to a drop-in centre to receive their vaccine. 12 to 15-year-olds must book an appointment through their GP, and with parental consent. If you would like help contacting your GP, or would like further information, please contact Duchenne UK’s Senior Policy Manager, Will Pender: [email protected].

Published on 18 August 2021

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