Vaccines for young people

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Find out what vaccines are offered to young people, and which diseases they protect against.

What vaccines are offered to young people?

All young people will be offered routine vaccines in secondary school.

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It’s important that you get your vaccines when offered. You might not have heard of the diseases these vaccines protect against. Before vaccines were available, diseases like diphtheria, tetanus and polio used to harm and even kill a lot of people. Now, with so many people vaccinated against them, they’ve almost disappeared from the UK. 

Do I need to do anything?

A consent form, letter and leaflet will be given to you in school. You’ll get these for each vaccine you’re offered. You should chat with your parent or carer about the vaccine. Sign the consent form and return it to your school as soon as possible.

How are the vaccines given?

The HPVDTP and MenACWY vaccines are given by injection in the upper arm.

Your school will tell you when the NHS immunisation teams will visit to give you your vaccine.

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are the safest way to protect against disease. Before they’re allowed to be used, all medicines (including vaccines) are tested. These tests make sure they meet the high safety standards needed for them to be used in the UK.

The safety of vaccines is monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) once they’re in use.

Will I need any other vaccines?

The HPVDTP and MenACWY vaccines provide long-term protection against these diseases.

If you have a long-term health condition, you may need other vaccines.

You may need additional vaccines if you’re travelling abroad.

Read more about travel vaccines

All young people at school will be offered the child flu vaccine each winter.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by helping the body’s immune system make antibodies (substances that fight off infection). Once you’re immunised, if you come into contact with the infection, your antibodies will recognise it and help protect you.

Vaccines have either a very weak form of the germs or viruses that cause a disease, or a small part of it. The vaccine cannot cause the disease it’s protecting you against.

Do I have to pay for the vaccines?

No. These vaccines are provided free by the NHS.

What’s the MMR vaccine status check?

Your measlesmumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine status will be checked during secondary school to make sure you’re up to date. If you’ve not had all the doses you need, you’ll be offered the MMR vaccine.

How do I give consent?

It’s important that you and your parent or carer chat about the vaccine and agree to you getting vaccinated.

You and your parent or carer will be asked to sign a consent form and return it to school.

You should return the consent form to your school, even if you’re not going to have the vaccine.

We recommend that you get agreement from your parent or carer to have the vaccine. However, it’s not always necessary.

Read more about vaccine consent for young people

If you’ve had a severe reaction to a vaccination in the past, it’s important that you include this on your consent form.

On the day of your vaccine

The person giving you the vaccine will explain the process to you.

Do

  • make sure you go to school on the vaccination day to get your vaccine
  • tell the person giving you the vaccine if you’ve had a severe reaction to any vaccination in the past
  • have the vaccine even if you’ve got a minor illness without a fever, like a cold

Don’t

  • do not have the vaccine if you’re ill with a fever

If you’re worried or feeling a bit nervous, let the person giving you the vaccine know. They’ll be very understanding and can support you by helping you feel calm.

What if I miss my vaccination at school?

If you miss a vaccination at school, your local NHS immunisation team will be in touch to rearrange your appointment.

If you’ve left school, you can arrange a vaccination by contacting your local NHS immunisation team.

What if I am not in mainstream education?

You’re still eligible to be vaccinated if you’re:

  • educated at home
  • not in a mainstream school

You can arrange a vaccination by contacting your local NHS immunisation team.

I’m not sure if I’ve had all my vaccinations

If you’re unsure if you’ve missed any vaccines, you should first check your red book.

If you do not have a red book, or it has gone missing, you can check with your local NHS immunisation team.

After the vaccine

It’s common to experience some side effects after getting a vaccination. It shows the vaccines are teaching your body’s immune system how to protect itself from the disease. You may experience swelling, tenderness or redness where you were given the injection. Sometimes a small painless lump develops. Most side effects are mild and normally last only a day or two. Not everyone will get side effects.

Read more about common side effects of immunisation