With the roll-out of the Covid vaccine to secondary pupils across Greater Manchester, youngsters have been asking what it means for them.
While the decision to vaccinate the 12 to 15-year-old age group has proved somewhat controversial, students have been surrounded by opinions of adults – many of whom are divided on whether they feel it’s the right thing to do.
That’s why the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has decided to share some of the most common questions that young people have been asking – with answers to those questions from Bolton GP Dr Helen Wall.
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From concerns over fertility, to whether it will stop them playing sport, these are the issues raised by the schoolchildren.
It’s hoped that teachers, support staff and other professionals will use the information to answer any questions young people have.
Dr Helen Wall (Image: M.E.N.)
Does the Covid-19 vaccine have any side effects?
Sometimes, but these are usually over very quickly.
People who have the vaccine sometimes start to feel a little bit shivery, a little bit tired and a bit achy.
Very, very rarely – about one in 1,000,000 to 10,000,000 – some people get inflammation around the heart.
That is why doctors and scientists have been slow to recommend the vaccine to young people.
They wanted to make sure that the risk of the vaccine side-effects – which are really rare – are beaten by the benefits of the vaccine stopping kids getting sick.
How long after having Covid-19 can you get vaccinated?
If you’ve already had Covid-19 and you’re fully recovered with no symptoms, you can get your vaccination.
It needs to be at least four weeks after you first tested positive for the Covid 19 virus.
If you are unwell with the after-effects of Covid-19 or any other illness, your vaccination may be postponed until you have fully recovered.
This is to avoid confusion between being poorly with something else and any adverse effects of the vaccine.
Will kids need to have the vaccine every year?
We think that this is unlikely because many of the youngest children will experience the virus naturally, and we will get some degree of natural immunity in the community.
When you have the vaccine and you subsequently meet coronavirus for real, the vaccine gives your body a little boost and your immune system gets woken up and reminded about the virus and deals with it very well.
It is more likely older people probably will require regular boosters.
But we are learning about the virus all the time and our advice may change.
Can I have the vaccine if my parents say no?
We will always try and support you and your parents to agree on whether you should have the vaccine.
But there may be some parents and young people who do disagree. In these cases, nurses and doctors may use something called ‘Gillick Competence’ to decide if young people are mature enough to make decisions about their own medical treatment.
It means that if you can explain that you understand the vaccine, what happens if you don’t take the vaccine and what the side effects might be, it will then be decided that you are ‘competent’ and can make the decision on whether you have the vaccine for yourself.
If a child does go against their parents’ wishes and decides to have the vaccine it is most likely the school nurses will speak to their parents, to talk them through their decision.
Schoolchildren have been asking a number of questions about the virus and how it will affect them (Image: Getty Images)
Will having the vaccine stop children getting Covid-19?
Everyone is being offered a dose of vaccine to start with to give us a head start against the virus. Having the vaccine reduces your risk of feeling poorly with Covid-19, it helps to stop you catching it and reduces the chances of passing it on.
If plenty of young people get the vaccine it will really reduce the chance of an outbreak occurring in your school which means you will be more likely to be able to stay in school for your education, enjoy clubs and activities and enjoy your social life. That’s what this is all about.
Is the vaccine effective against all of the different variants of Covid-19?
It looks at the moment that the current vaccine will give good protection against the current Delta strain that is going around.
Is the vaccine better than the virus?
The risks from the virus for children are small but still the virus is nastier than the vaccine.
Will the vaccine stop me being able to have a baby?
Women trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination and there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility.
Will the vaccine stop me doing any sports?
Covid-19 vaccine should not stop you doing sports. it’s normal to experience some side effects after the vaccine. It shows the vaccine is teaching your body’s immune system how to protect itself from the disease, however not everyone gets them.
Most of these are mild and short term. They may include:
- Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection
- Headache or muscle ache
- Feeling tired
- Fever (temperature above 37.8C).
Have scientists approved the vaccine for my age group?
There are a number of licensed Covid-19 vaccines in England that have been approved. One dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved for your age group.
Will we ever get rid of Covid-19?
We don’t think so. There are viruses like cold viruses that have been around for hundreds of years. We expect Covid-19 to be the same. We will just learn to live with it.