Booster FAQs

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In February, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised a spring dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for:

  • adults aged 75 years and over
  • residents in care homes for older adults
  • individuals aged 12 years and over who have a weakened immune system

The NHS will contact those who are eligible to make a spring booster appointment, so people should wait until they hear from the NHS. The NHS will prioritise those whose clinical need is greatest, as it has throughout, starting with those who have had a bigger gap since their last dose, then working through the cohort to invite others who have waited less time. Everyone who is eligible will be offered a top up between three and six months over the Spring and early Summer.

Q: Why are some people being invited for a Spring Booster?

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. Protection from the vaccine may be lower and may decline more quickly in these people. For this reason, people aged 75 years and over, those in care homes and those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system are being offered the Spring Booster.

Q: When will people be able to book their Spring Booster?

JCVI’s advice is that people should wait until around six months since their last dose for maximum effectiveness, and people are asked to wait until they are invited by the NHS to book. People should wait to be contacted by the NHS. The NHS will begin inviting people from the week beginning 21st March and will offer a top-up dose to all who are eligible during Spring and early Summer.

Q: How do I get my booster dose of the COVID vaccine?

For Spring Boosters, you should wait until the NHS contacts you. For an initial booster dose (the first dose following your primary course), you can visit our walk-in information page to find your nearest walk-in option or go to the NHS booster vaccination page to book an appointment. You can also call 119 free of charge which also offers translators on request.

Q: What happens if someone who has yet to be called forward for a booster had their last jab more than three months ago turns up at a vaccine centre – will they be turned away? If so, why?

The JCVI advice is that people should wait until around six months since their last dose for maximum effectiveness, and people are asked to wait until they are invited by the NHS to book. However, provided they are in one of the eligible groups and they attend a site that accepts walk-ins for booster doses, they will not be turned away if it has been more than three months since their previous dose and they have not had COVID recently (see next answer).

Q: I have recently recovered from COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes. You still need to get a booster dose of the vaccine for extra protection, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19.

If you have recently recovered from the virus, you will need to wait before getting any dose of the vaccine. People will need to wait:

Q: Why should I still get the vaccine now that restrictions have been lifted?

Vaccines have enabled the gradual and safe removal of restrictions on everyday life over the past year.

Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, we are able to get back to doing the things we love. However, COVID-19 is still out there and there are still people in hospital unwell with the virus.

Make sure you stay up to date with your vaccines for the best possible protection and for extra reassurance that you’re keeping yourself and others safe.

Q: Will I get side-effects from a booster dose?

You may experience some mild side effects from the booster dose, regardless of how you reacted to previous COVID-19 vaccines. Side effects are very mild, do not last for very long and not everybody will get them. Side effects can include a sore arm, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy, and feeling or being sick. If you do get these, a pain killer such as paracetamol is recommended.

Q: Will I be expected to get more doses of the COVID vaccine in the future?

The NHS will be delivering a Spring Booster in England to those who are most vulnerable from COVID-19, including people aged 75 and over. The NHS is also preparing to deliver an autumn dose of the vaccine, but whether this happens will depend on future recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Q: Can I still come forward for a first or second dose if I’ve not yet done so?

It’s never too late to come forward for your first, second or (if you were immunosuppressed at the time of one of these) a third dose of the vaccine. You do not need to be registered with a GP and can find a walk-in option on our website; alternatively book an appointment or get more information at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccine or by calling 119 (translators are available into different languages on request).

Q: Why are no other groups of people being invited to come forward for a Spring Booster?

The NHS vaccinates people in line with recommendations on who is eligible from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), as accepted by government.

Q: How you can help?

Please do not call your GP surgery / local doctor about this as we need to keep the phone lines free to help patients requiring appointments and urgent medical care. We will regularly update information on our web pages and social media channels so please keep checking.