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FAQs on the Covid-19 booster programme

What is the COVID-19 booster programme?

The COVID-19 booster programme is the rollout of an additional vaccine dose to people who have previously received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to ensure continued protection for those most at risk from COVID-19.

Booster Covid-19 jabs - who is eligible?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that the following people should be offered a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 40 years or over (booking expected by beginning of week commencing 22 November but not offered currently)
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those aged 16 to 39 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
  • adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

The JCVI advises that the booster vaccine dose should be offered no earlier than six months after completion of the first course of vaccination. 

If I am eligible and over the age of 50, how can I book?

People who are eligible for flu jabs and COVID-19 boosters will be invited by the NHS to attend vaccine clinics. This invitation could be via text message, phone call or a letter. You can also book by visiting https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/book-or-manage-a-booster-dose-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine/ or calling 119. 

If I am eligible and aged between 40-49, how can I book?

The NHS plans to open the National Booking Service and make booster vaccines available to newly eligible over-40s, no later than Monday 22nd November. From the same time, people this age will also be able to make a booking by calling 119, or to use the NHS online vaccine walk-in finder to find one of hundreds of convenient sites across the country that require no appointment. The finder shows which doses are offered at each location and to which age groups. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/find-a-walk-in-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-site/

What does pre-booking a booster dose at 5 months mean?

If it has been 5months since your second covid-19 vaccinations and you would like to pre-book your booster dose so your appointment slot is ready as soon as you are eligible, you can do this by visiting https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/book-or-manage-a-booster-dose-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine/ or calling 119. This means you are pre-booking your appointment time for 6 months after your second dose, in line with the national JCVI guidance.  

If I am eligible and aged between 40-49, how can I book?

The NHS plans to open the National Booking Service and make booster vaccines available to newly eligible over-40s, no later than Monday 22nd November. From the same time, people this age will also be able to make a booking by calling 119, or to use the NHS online vaccine walk-in finder to find one of hundreds of convenient sites across the country that require no appointment. The finder shows which doses are offered at each location and to which age groups. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/find-a-walk-in-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-site/

 Where can I get my Covid-19 vaccinations?

There are more places delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, including pharmacies, GP practices and other community sites, meaning almost every person lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination clinic. Visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/find-a-walk-in-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-site/

3rd doses for those severely immunosuppressed

JCVI have advised that individuals who are severely immunosuppressed get an additional third dose of vaccine as part of their primary course of immunisation. This offer is separate to the booster programme. More information is available here: JCVI issues advice on third dose vaccination for severely immunosuppressed - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

What type of vaccine will the COVID-19 booster be? What if it’s different to the one I have had?

The COVID-19 booster and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and for people that are eligible for both, there may be opportunities to have both together. We would encourage you to get your vaccinations as soon as possible and get fully protected rather than waiting as it may not always be possible to get them together.

Is there anyone that shouldn’t have the booster vaccine?

There are very few people in the eligible groups who should not have a booster. If you have had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine you should discuss this with your doctor.

Why aren’t most younger people being offered a booster?

As most younger adults will only have received their second COVID-19 vaccine dose in late summer or early autumn, the benefits of booster vaccination in this group will be considered at a later time when more information is available. In general, younger, healthy individuals may be expected to generate stronger vaccine-induced immune responses from primary course vaccination compared to older individuals.

Will there be any side effects from the booster vaccine?

As with your previous dose the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK, and include:
• having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine
• feeling tired
• headache
• general aches, or mild flu like symptoms

You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better. Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection.
Although a fever can occur within a day or 2 of vaccination, if you have any other COVID-19 symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and arrange to have a test. Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111.

If you had serious side effects after any previous dose you may be advised to avoid or delay further vaccination. You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist.

Can you still catch COVID-19 after having the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few days for your body to build up some protection from the booster.
Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

Can I have the booster if I haven’t completed the first vaccination course?

No, you need to finish the first course of your vaccination.


Can I get the flu and COVID-19 booster vaccine at the same time?

The COVID-19 booster and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and for people that are eligible for both, there may be opportunities to have both together. We would encourage you to get your vaccinations as soon as possible and get fully protected rather than waiting as it may not always be possible to get them together.

 

I haven’t yet had the COVID-19 vaccination, can I still get my first jabs?

Everyone that is eligible that hasn’t already had their first or second COVID-19 vaccination will still be able to get vaccinated, even when the COVID-19 booster programme begins. This may be through a GP-led service or by booking through the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination national booking service.

Everyone aged 18 and over can book their initial COVID-19 vaccination through the NHS booking service (call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week).

 

Can I get the booster if I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant and in one of the groups that the JCVI has recommended for the boosters, you are eligible to receive a booster, no earlier than six months after completion of the first course of vaccination. The NHS will contact you when it is your turn.

 

Why is the COVID-19 booster programme needed?

We want to provide the people that are most likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and those who care for them with the best possible protection for this winter. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has reviewed available data and provided advice that COVID-19 boosters are first offered to the most vulnerable in order to provide maximum protection during the Winter months.

The flu vaccination programme is now running which protects people from serious complications from getting flu, so we would also encourage people that are eligible for a COVID-19 booster to also get their flu vaccination. More information on the flu vaccination is at www.nhs.uk/flujab