Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine
Covid Booster Vaccine FAQs
I’ve already had two vaccines. Why do I need a booster vaccine?
Like some other vaccines, levels of protection may begin to drop off over time. The booster dose will help extend the protection you gained from your first 2 doses and give you longer term protection.
This winter, we are expecting Covid cases to rise due to more indoor gatherings taking place, providing fertile ground for the virus to spread.
The booster will help to reduce the risk of you and your friends and family needing admission to hospital due to COVID-19 infection in the coming months.
Who can get the booster vaccine?
Booster vaccine doses will be available free on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a 2nd dose of a vaccine at least 6 months ago.
- people aged 50 and over
- people who live and work in care homes
- frontline health and social care workers
- people aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- people aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at higher risk from COVID-19
- people aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who is immunosuppressed, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose. If you're unsure whether you have a health condition that puts you at high risk you can visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/who-is-at-high-risk-from-coronavirus/
When can I get the booster vaccine?
The booster is being offered at least 6 months after your 2nd dose. Like your previous doses, the vaccine will be given in your upper arm.
Protection against severe disease from the first 2 doses seems to decline very slowly. So don’t worry if your booster vaccine is given a few weeks after the 6 months time period. The booster dose should help to extend your protection into the next year.
Where can I get my vaccination if I am eligible?
For most eligible people, the NHS will let eligible people know to have their booster vaccine when it is their turn.
The JCVI advises that the booster vaccine dose should be offered no earlier than six months after having the second dose of the vaccination.
People will be offered the vaccine through a range of local services. Primary care teams will vaccinate care home staff and residents. Health and social care staff are being directed to book their appointments online or can take advantage of our walk-in centre offers here, and members of the public will be invited to get their booster through a GP-led service and/or be contacted by the NHS to book through the national COVID-19 vaccination booking service to get their vaccination in a designated pharmacy, vaccination centre or GP-led service.
If you have been contacted by the NHS asking you to book an appointment to receive your booster vaccination, just as for health and social care workers, there are a number of walk-in options available to you in Kingston here.
Can I have my Flu jab with my booster jab?
The flu jab can be given at the same time as the booster vaccine. At this time not all vaccination clinics have both flu and COVID vaccines available to give at the same time so you may be asked to attend separate appointments.
This year it’s especially important to get your flu jab if you’re eligible for one. Thanks to social distancing and other measures taken to stop the spread of Covid-19, flu levels were extremely low last winter.
As a result, it’s expected people will have a lower level of immunity against the flu this winter, and flu cases could be much higher as a result.
Precautions such as washing your hands can limit the spread of many infectious diseases, including flu. We also know that getting flu and Covid at the same time can have far more serious health impacts, so we encourage people who can to get both a Covid booster and flu vaccine as soon as possible.
I am severely immunosuppressed. When will I get my booster?
The 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.
Why is a different vaccine being given for the booster jab?
In line with JCVI and government guidance, the majority of people will be given a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, unless there is a good medical reason based on personal circumstances. Your GP or vaccinator can answer any questions around the decision over which vaccine has been chosen for your booster.
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 a stronger vaccine-induced immune response from the complete 2-dose Covid vaccination compared to older individuals.
Are there any added side effects to the booster vaccine?
Common side effects
As with your previous dose, the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 booster 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
- 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 two 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.
You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme.
Serious side effects
Worldwide, there have also been recent, very rare cases of inflammation of the heart called myocarditis or pericarditis reported after Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
These very rare cases have been seen mostly in younger men within several days after vaccination. Most of these people recovered and felt better following rest and simple treatments.
- You should seek medical advice urgently if, after vaccination, you experience:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart
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.
Who shouldn’t have a booster?
There are very few people 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.
Can you still catch COVID-19 after having the booster vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19. It may take a few days for your body to build up some protection from the booster.
Like all medicines, no vaccine is 100% effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but the evidence shows that illness amongst fully vaccinated people is less severe, and far less likely to result in hospitalisation.
I haven’t had my first two doses yet
If you haven’t had either of your first 2 doses of the vaccine you should have them as soon as possible (8 weeks between 1st and 2nd doses) by finding your nearest walk in clinic here.
You will still need the booster if you are in one of the eligible groups, but this will be 6 months (182 days) after your first 2 doses.