Vaccinations have begun in a number of schools across the Black Country, with pupils eligible to receive a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Consent forms will be sent out to parents, guardians and carers through schools along with information on the life-saving vaccination, being offered to both protect children and to help reduce transmission among the wider population.
Latest figures show that Covid-19 infection rates among secondary age children in Wolverhampton are over three times higher than in the general population.
The Government says that, while very few healthy children and young people who get Covid-19 will go on to experience severe illness, vaccinating secondary aged children will reduce the need for them to have time off school and so miss out on face-to-face learning, and may also help stop the spread of Covid-19 within education settings.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Schools have been working hard to keep Covid-19 cases to a minimum but it was always inevitable that, as pupils and staff returned after the summer break, there would be an increase in infections.
“The Government has made it clear that, while children and young people are not at as much risk from Covid-19 as adults, offering them the vaccine should help reduce transmission within school and keep more children in the classroom. It will also help to protect friends, family and members of the wider community who may be more vulnerable to Covid-19.
“We are working closely with schools and health partners to co-ordinate the vaccine programme for secondary school pupils, with the aim of offering the vaccine to all eligible children in the next couple of months.
"We are keen to encourage as many young people to take the vaccine as possible and schools will ensure students and parents are given clear and trusted advice and information on the vaccine and how they can give consent for their child to get their jab."
Some children who are clinically extremely vulnerable, or live with someone who is immunosuppressed, will be offered two doses of the vaccine and will be contacted by their GP to arrange this.
Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Offering young people aged between 12 and 15 their Covid-19 vaccine marks a significant milestone in the vaccination programme.
“We want to make sure as many people as possible are protected against this virus especially as we approach the winter months.
“A single dose of Pfizer vaccine for children in this age group will provide them with protection from the virus and may also help to reduce transmission of COVID-19, preventing further disruption to the classroom.
“I urge all families and young people to consider the offer of the vaccine and to take it up as soon as the rollout reaches their school.”
For more information about the vaccination programme for 12 to 15 year olds, please visit NHS. Parents are also invited to join a live Q&A with healthcare and public health staff to ask questions about vaccines for their 12 to 15 year olds. Hosted by Black Country Radio, it will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6pm. People can tune in to 102.5FM, on DAB or listen online at Black Country Radio.
In the 7 days to 2 October, the Covid-19 infection rate among 10 to 14 year olds in Wolverhampton was 1,244.8 cases per 100,000. In comparison, the city wide infection rate in the same 7days was 372.5 per 100,000.