Booster doses are available to those in priority groups who have had their second vaccine doses not less than six months previously. If you are eligible, you can choose to attend a walk-in clinic, or you can book through the NHS National Booking Service. Alternatively, you may prefer to wait to be called to a local vaccination hub by your GP practice.
Who will get a COVID-19 booster vaccine?
Everyone over 50 or who has a health condition that puts them at higher risk from COVID-19 will be offered a booster.
When will I get a booster vaccine?
If you are eligible, you'll be invited to get a booster vaccine when it is your turn and at least six months after your second dose. The booster programme started on September 16 and is likely to last at least throughout the autumn.
Boosters will be given in the same order of priority as for the initial vaccine, as follows:
- Care home residents and staff
- People aged 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
- People aged 75 and over
- People aged 70 and over, and adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- People aged 65 and over
- Adults who are at higher risk from COVID-19.
- People aged 60 and over
- People aged 55 and over
- People aged 50 and over
Why might I need a booster vaccine?
The booster vaccine is recommended in order to give longer-lasting protection against coronavirus.
A recent study from Imperial College London suggests that protection from vaccines starts to reduce three months after vaccination. The REACT study, which looked at 100,000 swabs taken between 24 June and 12 July, found that COVID-19 infections are more common in people who had their second dose three to six months ago, compared to people who were vaccinated in the last three months. This supports research from Oxford University, which also found that immunity from COVID-19 vaccines starts to decline in the first three months after the second dose. Because the vaccine has not yet been available for long enough, there are no large studies of effectiveness beyond six months from the second dose.
This doesn't mean that the vaccine stops being effective after three to six months. The vaccine works extremely well, and in the first three months offers a higher level of protection than many established vaccines against other illnesses. So a reduction in the effectiveness doesn't mean you are not protected at all.
What this does mean is that a booster dose will help to ensure those at higher risk from coronavirus, who were prioritised at the start of the vaccine programme and therefore had their vaccine longer ago, have a high level of protection, especially as we enter the winter months.
What about people who have a weakened immune response?
The JCVI and UK government have recommended that everyone over 12 with a severely weakened immune system is offered a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is separate from the booster programme.
Which booster jab will I get, and why might it be different to my first two doses?
You are likely to be offered a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as a booster dose. Evidence shows that these mRNA vaccines work best as boosters, even if you received a different vaccine for your first two doses. The JCVI reviewed data from several different vaccine combinations before making this recommendation.
You might be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine as a booster dose if you can’t have Pfizer or Moderna. The AstraZeneca vaccine has only been approved as a booster for use in people who had it as their first and second vaccine.
If you receive Moderna as a booster, a half dose of the vaccine may be used, as this has been shown to be very effective.
The Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have all been approved for use as booster jabs by the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA.
More research is currently under way to look at other options for use as COVID-19 booster vaccines.
Where can I get a booster vaccine?
Pharmacies are expected to be heavily involved in giving the COVID-19 booster vaccine, as well as the flu jab, or you might be offered an appointment at your GP surgery. Many health and care staff are being offered appointments in their workplaces. You will need to wait to be offered the booster.
Vaccination sites are open across North Yorkshire and more information on where to receive a vaccine can be accessed on the council website.
Will I need to be monitored after my booster vaccine?
Like the first two doses, you are likely to be asked to wait for 15 minutes after your booster vaccine. This is so that in the very unlikely event of a severe allergic reaction, help will be at hand
Will the booster vaccine be given at the same time as the flu jab?
The flu jab and COVID-19 booster vaccine may be offered at the same appointment. The medicines regulator the MHRA has reviewed the evidence and decided that it is safe to do so. This will be done wherever practical, and where it doesn't cause a delay to one of the vaccines, but in some cases they may be given separately for logistical reasons.
This year it’s extra important to get your flu jab if you’re offered one. There are concerns that flu levels could be very high this winter. 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. Precautions such as washing your hands can limit the spread of many infectious diseases, including flu.
Will I get a Covid booster vaccine every year?
The current advice on boosters is for the coming months. The situation will be kept under review, depending on what happens with COVID-19. It’s possible that a COVID booster jab will be offered every year, like the flu jab.
The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have a booster dose. It's important not to contact the NHS for one before then.