Dorset 16 and 17 year olds have now joined the thousands of Dorset people who can grab a jab and protect themselves and others from the effects of COVID-19.

Health and Social Care Minister Sajid Javid announced the plans during a visit to the large vaccination centre in Bournemouth earlier this month.

Now eligible young people can choose to be vaccinated either as a walk-in at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) or wait to be invited by their GP.

As the new school and college term approaches, the team running the vaccination programme in Dorset is urging young people to get the jab done to help keep everyone safe.

Dr Andy Rutland, Local GP and clinical lead for the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Dorset, said: “Young people have been seriously affected by the impacts of the pandemic – everything from school and college closures and disruption to exams through to being separated from their friends and not being able to do the activities they enjoy.

“Vaccination offers them another layer of protection, in addition to regular self-testing, which should allow them to socialise fully again and pursue their studies in a more normal way.”

While children and young people generally suffer less serious symptoms if they contract COVID-19, they can still become ill and spread the virus to others.

A small number of children aged 12-15 who are clinically vulnerable or who live with someone who is immuno-compromised are also being contacted by GPs and invited for their vaccination.

The BIC is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week and offers walk-in appointments for anyone aged over 16. Both the AstraZeneca (until 31 August) and Pfizer vaccines are available and first or second doses can be given (NB most 16 and 17 year olds are currently being offered their first dose only. Those who are clinically vulnerable or in immuno-compromised households receive two doses).

Anyone aged over 18 can book an appointment at the centre via the National Booking System. Those who prefer to be vaccinated by their GP practice should wait to be contacted by them.