Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year olds: Your questions answered

Last updated at 17:59
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WATCH: Professor Devi Sridhar answers your questions about one of the Covid-19 vaccines and children

The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has been approved for 12 to 15 year-olds in Britain.

The UK's medicine regulator, the MHRA, says the injections are "safe and effective" for children in that age group and that the "benefits far outweigh any risk".

However, a final decision on whether children will or won't receive the jab hasn't been made yet.

More than half of all adults in the UK have now had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, the final decision on whether kids will also be vaccinated is now up to the UK's vaccines committee.

Newsround's been putting YOUR questions to Professor Devi Sridhar, who is the Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh.

Is it safe for children?
Young boy getting a vaccine while wearing a face maskGetty Images

Professor Devi: "There are some side effects like headaches and fatigues, but in at least two months [of trials] there was nothing actually significant."

When are children likely to get the vaccine?

Professor Devi: "The Pfizer vaccine has been approved in the UK as being safe and effective and the question now is 'when will children get it?'.

"It looks likely to be once people in their 20s are done, then it will move down to younger age groups.

"So the next group to get it, after those in their 20s, will be those who are 12 and older - probably starting with vulnerable children first."

Why won't under 11s get it yet?
Child being vaccinatedGetty Images

Professor Devi: "Those younger than 12 won't get the vaccine yet because it hasn't been trialled in children under 12.

"There are trials ongoing to try and change the dosage to make it more appropriate for younger age groups.

"But right now nowhere is there a vaccine that has been deemed safe for children under the age of 12."

Does the vaccine work?

Professor Devi: "So when the Pfizer vaccine was trialled among children in the United States, they found absolutely no cases of illness in the group that received the vaccine.

"So it looks like the vaccine does protect against getting Covid-19."

Will the vaccine for children be the same as the adult version?
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Professor Devi: "The child and adult version of the Pfizer vaccine are actually exactly the same.

"The vaccine has already been used in millions of adults and now it has been trialled in children and rolled out already in the United States and in Israel."

I'm scared of injections, will the vaccine be available as a spray or tablet instead?

Professor Devi: "Unfortunately, at this point, the vaccine is only available as an injection.

"But it really doesn't hurt too much, just a quick pinch into your arm for the first time.

"And then several weeks later, the second one and then you're fully protected."

What are the pros and cons of children having the coronavirus vaccine?
girl-vaccinted.Getty Images

Professor Devi: "The benefit of getting the vaccine is you don't need to worry about Covid-19.

"It means you're likely to not infect your parents, the people you live with and your teachers.

"The downside is it's another jab, another injection into your arm. But the benefits definitely outweigh the risks."

What are the side effects after having the Pfizer jab?

Professor Devi: "Some children experience similar side effects to adults - these include fatigue (feeling tired), having a headache, feeling generally unwell, but these cleared within a day or two.

"And it seems a small price to pay for actually being protected from the real disease."

Correction: This article has been amended to remove a reference by a contributor that the Pfizer vaccine is "100% safe".

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said:

"We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12 to 15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.

"We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved COVID-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12- to 15-year age group.

"No extension to an authorisation would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.

"It will now be for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to advise on whether this age group will be vaccinated as part of the deployment programme."

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