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Schoolchildren in England have been talking about how it feels to be first in the 12 to 15 age group to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccinations begin in that age group today for some of the 3 million eligible young people. Quinn Foakes, 15, was given the Pfizer vaccination at Belfairs Academy secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Monday as the programme began.

Quinn said: “I was nervous at first but in the long run it’s going to be good because I can keep safe near my family and with my grandparents.

His mother Janine Lilleker, 44, who is a teacher at the school, said: “Their education has been hindered since Covid and by getting their vaccination done it’s a way of them protecting themselves and also protecting the wider community of the school.

The vaccine is expected to be delivered primarily within schools, and guidance has been issued to headteachers to contact police if they believe protests could be held outside their buildings. Jabs are being delivered by local School Age Immunisation Services, as is the case with the flu and HPV vaccines.

Johan Zweistra, the school’s vice principal, said there had been “significant uptake” by children.

He said the school has put two days aside for vaccinations and that they hope to get the majority of jabs done in that time.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “The vaccine is safe and effective and I would urge families to work closely with their schools based vaccination team to get their loved ones vaccinated when they are invited to protect themselves and their families ahead of the winter period.”

The rollout for 12- to 15-year-olds is also beginning in Scotland and Wales this week.

There has been controversy around jabbing this age group, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation saying they could not on balance recommend the Covid vaccine for young teenagers. They cited the low risk posed by Covid to this group and the tiny risk of adverse reactions.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty then gave the go-ahead, based on the wider protections such as schools staying open that the vaccines would provide to society and young people.