Parents across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire can now arrange for their child to receive a coronavirus vaccine outside of school.
Previously, vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds had only been available in school through Virgin Care’s immunisation services team.
However, parents can now use the online National Booking Service to arrange to have their child vaccinated at Bath Racecourse and Salisbury City Hall, with online booking for the Steam Museum in Swindon expected to be available later today.
Out-of-school vaccinations have been introduced to coincide with the start of the half-term holidays, and to supplement what is already happening in schools, and will continue to be available throughout November.
Children unable to make it to one of the three sites offering vaccines for 12 to 15- year-olds will still be able to get vaccinated at school, with the school-based programme resuming after the half-term holidays.
Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “We know parents are eager for their child to be vaccinated, especially with winter rapidly approaching, and we hope this new opportunity for young people to receive their vaccine outside of school will be welcome news to many families.
“Cases of coronavirus have been rising rapidly in some of our local areas and while we know children are less likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19, we also know they can potentially spread the virus to others, some of whom may be particularly vulnerable.
“This is why vaccinating our young people is every bit as important as vaccinating those who are much older, and I’d encourage all parents to speak with their children about having the vaccine, either at one of the vaccination centres or at school after the half-term break.”
Appointments for children at the larger vaccination centres will be limited each day, and families are asked not to attend a site as a walk-in without a confirmed booking.
The National Booking Service remains open for any person needing to arrange a first or second vaccination, or a third booster dose.
Booster vaccines are available to all people over the age of 50, as well as health and social care workers and those aged 16 and over with an underlying health condition.
Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health for Wiltshire, said: “Our priority during this challenging winter period is to protect local people and our health services as much as possible.
“Getting a vaccine, whether that’s a first, second or booster dose for Covid-19, or the annual winter flu jab, is the most important thing we can all do.
“And let’s not forget those simple day-to-day measures that are still hugely effective, such as regular hand washing, keeping windows open when meeting people indoors, wearing face coverings in busy indoor environments, taking regular lateral flow tests to break transmission, and isolating and booking a PCR test if showing any coronavirus symptoms.”
The National Booking Service can be accessed online by visiting http://www.nhs.uk or over the phone by calling 119.
Information about the local rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, including details of vaccination centres and an extensive list of frequently asked questions, is available at http://www.bswccg.nhs.uk.