From 20th December, children aged between 12-15 in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are now being offered a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.They will be eligible for this follow-up Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a minimum of three months after receiving their first jab. The decision to offer children second doses – along with the expansion of the adult booster vaccine programme – has been made to help people stay safer this winter and to protect them against any potential threat from the newly discovered Omicron variant. Following advice to the Government from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), local health chiefs are appealing for parents and guardians to ensure that eligible children receive their second jabs as soon as they are offered, unless their child has tested positive for COVID-19. If they have been diagnosed with the coronavirus the child must wait 12 weeks from the date of the positive test before they receive their second dose. Dr Paddy Hannigan, Clinical Lead for the vaccination programme in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, said: “Although older people – and those who are in COVID-19 at-risk groups – are likely to remain at higher risk from serious COVID-19, this expansion of the vaccination programme means that children aged 12-15 can now get a second dose to offer them more protection too. “Vaccines are safe, they will protect your children from COVID-19 and they will help to prevent further disruption to their education. With winter now upon us, we would urge people of all ages who are who is eligible to get their jabs as soon as possible to keep yourself and your family safer.” Dr Johnny McMahon, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Support Member for Public Health, said: “The arrival of the Omicron variant is a timely reminder that Covid is not only with us but can spread very quickly. Getting more people aged 12 is the best way of protecting people against the serious effects of this virus.” Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones MBE. Director of Adult Social Care, Health Integration and Wellbeing and Director of Public Health for Stoke-on-Trent said: “The offer of double vaccinations for children is a welcome step forward for them, their parents and carers. I wholeheartedly believe that this safe and effective vaccine is everyone’s best form of defence against COVID-19. “And it‘s never too late to get your first vaccination either. When you take your child along to their appointment, the vaccinators and clinicians will be able to offer a supported choice, tell you more and answer your questions, to ensure that you both understand and agree to everything before the vaccination takes place.” Councillor Abi Brown, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “The staggeringly rapid increase in cases of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant means it’s really important that everyone in Stoke-on-Trent who’s offered a vaccination takes up the offer. So, if you or your child are not sure, remember that by getting the vaccine, your child will be protecting not just themselves but their friends and family as well.” Appointments for vaccines can be booked online through the National Booking System by visiting www.nhs.uk, or by calling 119. Up-to-date details and times for all other Staffordshire COVID-19 vaccination walk-in clinics for 12-15-year-olds can be found at https://www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/coronavirus/12-15-year-olds If you would like more information about vaccinations for children aged 12-15 visit https://www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/coronavirus/12-15-year-olds You don’t need to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to get your jab, but it will be quicker if you do, so take that information with you if you can. Don’t miss out. Get vaccinated and get back to doing the things you love to do.