Covid 19 vaccine FAQs


This page brings together answers to the questions we are getting about the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccination programme. Simply click on the categories below.

If you require the frequently asked questions in a different format, click on the Browsealoud icon at the top of the webpage. Browsealoud can read aloud and translate text in multiple languages, as well as other features to improve accessibility.

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Q: How do I get a booster jab?

Booster jabs are now being offered to vulnerable adults to make sure they have a high level of protection as we head into winter, as research suggests the protection provided by vaccines decreases gradually over time. Boosters are available to:

  • all adults aged 40 years or over
  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • front line health and social care workers, and adult carers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19
  • adults who live with immunosuppressed people.

To be eligible, all individuals must also have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago. You will be give the Pfizer vaccine regardless of what you received for your first two doses.

You can use national booking system to book an appointment for a booster dose if it's been 5 months since your 2nd dose and you're in one of these groups. You'll be offered appointment dates from 6 months after the date of your 2nd dose.

Front line health and social care workers can go ahead and book their booster on the national booking system now if it has been 6 months since your second dose.

You can also now simply walk in to any of the sites on the ‘Grab a Jab’ NHS online walk-in finder and get your booster jab if it has been 6 months since your second dose, no need to book.

The table below shows the corresponding month you will become eligible for your booster following your second dose (6 months). 

Month of 2nd jab

March 2021

April 2021

May 2021

June 2021

July 2021

Aug 2021

Month in which you become eligible for booster

Everyone now eligible

Everyone now eligible

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022

 

Front line staff can also book their appointment on the National Booking Service now or by ringing 119 if it has been six months since their second dose. As part of the booking process, they will need to self-declare they are a frontline health or social care worker. When booking, they will be advised on the evidence they will need to provide at the vaccination site as of proof of employment. 

Q: Are there third jabs for people with a severely weakened immune system?

People who have a severely weakened immune system are to be offered a third Covid-19 jab. This extra dose will be offered to anyone over 12 who was severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV, and recent organ transplants. 

This recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is separate from a potential booster programme. A booster is designed to extend the already strong protection someone has received from their first and second jabs, this third dose is for people whose compromised immune systems mean two are insufficient. The people who it applies to will be contacted for their third dose. 

You can read a detailed Q&A from NHS England on third doses for people with a severely weakened immune system here.

Q: Can over 16s get a Covid-19 vaccine?

Everyone over 16 can now book via the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here. People aged 16-17 can walk into the vaccination centres listed here or find a local vaccination service here without an appointment (no need to book, just turn up) and get your jab now. You do not need to come with a parent/guardian. 

People aged 16-17 are now being offered second doses of the vaccines as long as it has been 12 weeks since the first. You can book these now on the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here

Q: Can 12-15s get a jab?

Everyone aged 12 and over can book your vaccine using the national booking system, calling 119, or where possible, book directly with, or walk into, a local vaccination centre - Full details of where and how you can do this are here.

Why do 16-17 year olds need the vaccine?

For people in this age group the first dose of the vaccine will provide 80% protection against hospitalisation. Protection could be even higher as younger people respond better to vaccines and some will have already had the Covid-19 infection, meaning they will have an even better response to a first dose. 

Why is the NHS only vaccinating some children and young people, and not all? 

The NHS vaccinates in line with guidance from the independent JCVI, which provides expert advice on vaccinations to UK health departments. The JCVI recommends that only certain groups of children and young people are vaccinated because of a combination of factors including their risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, passing it to others who may become seriously ill, and evidence of safety and effectiveness. 

How do I know the vaccine is safe for my child?

The JCVI has reviewed extensive clinical evidence for the safety of giving the Covid-19 vaccine to children and young people in the eligible groups and have determined it to be safe and effective. The JCVI has determined that the benefit of vaccinating children in these groups outweighs the risks. 

Who can book on the National Booking Service? 

All people aged 16 or over  can currently book on the national booking service, provided they are registered with a GP practice in England. 

The following groups of people can get vaccinated but cannot currently book via this service: 

How does Covid-19 affect people in pregnancy and do vaccines help? 

Latest data shows that no pregnant women with both doses of the vaccine had been admitted to hospital. Since May, just three women had been admitted after having their first vaccine, almost all (98%) pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 had not been jabbed. 

The data also shows that one in five women admitted to hospital with serious Covid symptoms went on to give birth prematurely, and the likelihood of delivery by caesarean section doubled. One in five babies born to mothers with Covid symptoms were also admitted to neonatal units. 

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, has written to fellow midwives and GP practices across the country stressing the need to for pregnant women to get the jab to protect them and their baby. 

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Every day our members are seeing very sick pregnant women with Covid-19 in hospital and the majority are unvaccinated. We want to reassure pregnant women that Covid-19 vaccines are the safest and best way to protect you and your baby from severe illness and premature birth.”

 

Q: How do I get a booster jab?

Booster jabs are now being offered to vulnerable adults to make sure they have a high level of protection as we head into winter, as research suggests the protection provided by vaccines decreases gradually over time. Boosters are available to:

  • all adults aged 40 years or over
  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • front line health and social care workers, and adult carers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19
  • adults who live with immunosuppressed people.

To be eligible, all individuals must also have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago. You will be give the Pfizer vaccine regardless of what you received for your first two doses.

You can use national booking system to book an appointment for a booster dose if it's been 5 months since your 2nd dose and you're in one of these groups. You'll be offered appointment dates from 6 months after the date of your 2nd dose.

Front line health and social care workers can go ahead and book their booster on the national booking system now if it has been 6 months since your second dose.

You can also now simply walk in to any of the sites on the ‘Grab a Jab’ NHS online walk-in finder and get your booster jab if it has been 6 months since your second dose, no need to book.

The table below shows the corresponding month you will become eligible for your booster following your second dose (6 months). 

Month of 2nd jab

March 2021

April 2021

May 2021

June 2021

July 2021

Aug 2021

Month in which you become eligible for booster

Everyone now eligible

Everyone now eligible

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022

 

Front line staff can also book their appointment on the National Booking Service now or by ringing 119 if it has been six months since their second dose. As part of the booking process, they will need to self-declare they are a frontline health or social care worker. When booking, they will be advised on the evidence they will need to provide at the vaccination site as of proof of employment. 

Q: Can people under 18 get the vaccine?

Everyone aged 12 and over can book your vaccine using the national booking system, calling 119, or where possible, book directly with, or walk into, a local vaccination centre - Full details of where and how you can do this are here.

People aged 16-17 are now being offered second doses of the vaccines as long as it has been 12 weeks since the first. You can book these now on the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here.

Q: Who are you currently calling and where can I get vaccinated?

We are vaccinating those aged 12 and over. You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS to book your vaccination at a large vaccination centre or a pharmacy using the national booking system

Click here to book your Covid-19 vaccination appointment on the national booking system 

If you live in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, City and Hackney, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge or Havering and are over the age of 18, you can book yourself in (either directly or using the national booking system), and sometimes walk-in, for your Covid-19 vaccination at over 50 vaccination centres in north east London. 

It is really important you have both doses of the vaccine to give you maximum protection from Covid-19. You should book your second jab eight to ten weeks after your first dose.

For centres in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge click here. 

For centres in City and Hackney click here. 

For centres in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest click here.

A map of all sites in north east London can be found here.

Q: Can I get a vaccine privately?

No. Vaccinations are only available through the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. 

Q: How do I know if an offer is genuine or a scam?

Vaccinations are only available through the NHS. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. 

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.

  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.

  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, or bills. 

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101. 

Q: Where can I find the latest data and stats on the vaccination programme?

Vaccination data is being provided by the government and is available as part of this healthcare dashboard that is updated weekly. Or there is NHS data available.  

Q: How can I support the vaccination programme?

If you wish to apply for roles in the vaccination programme please visit our recruitment pages here

Q: How many people have been vaccinated?  

Figures on the number of people vaccinated are published weekly and can be found here. 

Q: I wasn’t happy with my experience of getting my vaccine. What can I do?

We are aware that some people have not had a positive experience due to a variety of issues in setting up and managing these centres at pace and without precedent. We do read all the comments made. We are continually reviewing the locations we have and the processes we use. We are opening new centres. However we can't respond to every comment made at this time.  

Q: Who are the vaccinators? Are they qualified?

The vaccinators will either be existing NHS staff or those recruited by the NHS specifically for the programme. New vaccinators are required to complete comprehensive training and are assessed in person and closely supervised by senior clinicians to ensure both their safety and of course the safety of the people they are vaccinating – just like any other vaccinator.    

Q: Will the vaccination cards be able to be used as proof of vaccination when travelling abroad, or to prove to an employer that you’ve been vaccinated?

Not everyone will necessarily get a vaccination card which only acts as a reminder to have your second dose and records the vaccine batch number. However you can use the NHS App (not NHS track and trace) to demonstrate your vaccinations status. The Covid-19 vaccination status is available to people who live in England and are registered with a GP. This allows you to show others that you’ve had a full course of the Covid-19 vaccine when travelling abroad to some countries or territories. For full details on how to demonstrate your status and how to access this, please visit the gov.uk website here.

Q: Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe?

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once they have been authorised and are being used in the wider population.     

Q: What vaccines for Covid-19 are currently available?

Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 and Moderna vaccines are now being used in the UK. All vaccines are safe, effective and have been given regulatory approval by the MHRA. More information about the vaccines is on the NHS website here. 

Q: Is the AstraZeneca vaccine linked to increased blood clots?

On 7 April 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the UK Government on immunisation, released a statement on use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which you can read in full here: JCVI statement on use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine: 7 April 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

JCVI has weighed the relative balance of benefits and risks and advise that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals 40 years of age and over and those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease. 

Health experts have said that for almost everyone, irrespective of their age, if they had a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and not suffered a serious reaction then they should have their second dose of the same vaccine.

JCVI Statement: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca/information-for-healthcare-professionals-on-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

MHRA Update: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mhra-issues-new-advice-concluding-a-possible-link-between-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-and-extremely-rare-unlikely-to-occur-blood-clots

PHE Information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-and-blood-clotting

Q: Can I choose which vaccine I want?

No. The vaccines have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy and protect against serious illness. Under 40s are being offered the Pfizer vaccine. 

Q: I'm aged under 40 and have had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, what should I do?

To date, there are no reports of the extremely rare blood clots (thrombosis/thrombocytopenia) following receipt of the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. All those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should continue to be offered a second dose of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, irrespective of age. The second dose is vital for maximum protection against Covid-19. 

Q: I’m under 40 will I definitely get Pfizer when I attend for my vaccination?  

If you’re under 40, you can book your vaccine on the national booking system and you’ll only be shown appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. If you contact one of the local call centres just make sure you state your age and we can book you into the correct session.  

Q: How were vaccines developed so quickly? 

Medicines including vaccines are highly regulated – and that is no different for the approved Covid-19 vaccines. There a number of things that have made this ground-breaking medical advancement possible and why it was possible to develop them relatively quickly compared to other medicines; 

  1. The different phases of the clinical trial were delivered to overlap instead of run sequentially which sped up the clinical process;

  2. There was a rolling assessment of data packages as soon as they were available so experts at the MHRA could review as the trial was being delivered, ask questions along the way and request extra information as needed – as opposed to getting all information at the end of a trial;

  3. Clinical trials managed to recruit people very quickly as a global effort meant thousands of people were willing to volunteer. 

This video explains more: https://youtu.be/BDdwZXMwv7k 

Q: Are there any known or anticipated side effects?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. 

Very common side effects include:

  • Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine

  • Feeling tired

  • Headache

  • General aches, or mild flu like symptoms

  • As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration. 

The mild flu-like symptoms, including headache, chills and fever described above remain the most common side effects of any Covid-19 vaccine. These generally appear within a few hours and resolve within a day or two. 

Rare side effects that require medical review include:

  • new onset of severe headache, which is getting worse and does not respond to simple painkillers

  • an unusual headache which seems worse when lying down or bending over, or may be accompanied by blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, difficulty with speech, weakness, drowsiness or seizures

  • new unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding

  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain 

If you experience any of the above symptoms more than four days and within 28 days of coronavirus vaccination please seek urgent medical advice. 

Q: Does the vaccine affect periods/menstruation?
We’re aware of reports from some women who have seen a change to their period cycle or symptoms after having their vaccination.

This statement from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/rcog-responds-to-reports-that-covid-19-vaccine-affects-periods/) acknowledges there have been anecdotal accounts from people who say they've experienced changes to their menstrual cycle after having the COVID-19 vaccine and supports more data collection to understand why this might be the case.

Dr Pat O’Brien, Vice President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "It’s important to remember these side effects are mild and should not deter women from having the vaccine when they are called. Many women will experience a temporary change in their periods from time to time during their lives.”

If you have any concerns about your period you should contact your GP. There nothing in the vaccine that can affect the fertility of women and there is no need to avoid pregnancy after COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccine also does not affect your likelihood of having a miscarriage. 

Q: What are the long term side effects of the vaccine?

So far, millions of people have been given a Covid-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported. 

Q: What is in the vaccines? Are they vegan/vegetarian friendly? Do they include any parts from foetal or animal origin?

The vaccines do not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products or material of foetal or animal origin. A detailed review of the vaccines and their ingredients have been provided by the MHRA and can be found at the following links: 

Q: Does the Covid vaccine contain alcohol? 

The AstraZeneca vaccine does contain alcohol (ethanol) but at 0.002mg per dose this is much less than found in a slice of bread or a banana for example. A statement from the British Islamic Medical Association supports this. The Pfizer vaccine does not contain any alcohol. 

Q: Can the vaccine alter your genetic material?

There is no evidence to suggest that individual genetic material will undergo an alteration after receiving the vaccine. The vaccine will not alter human DNA. 

Q: Does the vaccine or any of the Covid-19 tests contain a microchip to track me?

No. This is not something the NHS would do. 

Q: Can having the Covid-19 vaccine give me Covid?

You cannot catch Covid-19 from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught Covid and not develop the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment. 

Q: Will the vaccines work with the new strains of Covid-19?

Researchers have been looking at the effectiveness of the vaccines against new strains and results indicate that the vaccines are still effective against mutations and variants. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective. 

Q: How long will my vaccine be effective for? 

We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer. This will be constantly monitored.  

Q: Were the vaccines tested on high risk groups? 

The vaccine trial participants included a range of those from various ages, immune-compromised and those with underlying health conditions. Details of trial participants are published online. 

Q: What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for people of all ethnicities?

All vaccines approved for use in the UK have been trialled on people from a variety of different ethnic groups. There is no evidence either of the vaccines will work differently in different ethnic groups.  

  • Out of the participants in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial, 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan native.

  • Out of the participants in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial, the 75.5% of recipients were White,10.1% were Black and 3.5% were Asian.

  • Out of the participants in the Moderna vaccine trial, 19.7% were Hispanic or Latino, and 9.7% were African American. 

Further information on the vaccine trial can be found here:

Q: How do the vaccines work? 

Most vaccines work by triggering an immune response to the virus, even though there is no live virus present. As there is no whole or live virus involved, the vaccine cannot cause disease. 

Q: Can I still pass on the virus if I have had the vaccine?

The vaccine cannot give you Covid-19 infection. However it may not stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So it is important to follow the current guidance to protect those around you, and to keep wearing a mask and socially distancing.  

Q: Are the Covid-19 vaccines suitable for Catholics?

A: Yes, the Pope has said that it's "morally acceptable" to receive a vaccination for Covid-19. You can read the full announcement here. 

Q: Where can I find out more about the vaccines?

All of the latest guidance and information leaflets and materials published are available on the government website here. This includes easy read leaflets, guidance for specific groups, information about what to expect after your vaccination and product information.

Q: What are the common side effects of the Moderna vaccine?

Similarly to other COVID-19 vaccines, common side effects 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. 

Q: Are there any serious side effects of the Moderna vaccine?

Worldwide, there have been recent, very rare cases of inflammation of the heart called myocarditis or pericarditis reported after Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

These 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.

Q: How effective is the Moderna vaccine?

Based on evidence from clinical trials, in people aged 18 years and older, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in people who received two doses and had no evidence of being previously infected.

Data from the COV-BOOST trial also indicates that half a dose of the Moderna vaccine when given as a booster dose provides a strong booster effect, regardless of what the primary course of vaccination was (eg AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech).

Who can book on the National Booking Service? 

All people aged 12 or over (including those eligible for boosters) can currently book on the national booking service, provided they are registered with a GP practice in England. 

You can also walk in at sites listed here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/find-a-walk-in-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-site/ no need to book. 

Q: What info will I need to give to get a vaccine?

You can walk in to some vaccination clinics and some you need to book. No proof of address or immigration status is required. If you book on the national booking service you will be asked for your name and date of birth. If you can’t book on the national booking service information on where and how to get vaccinated at one of the many sites is here: 

For centres, opening times, and booking information in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge click here. 

For centres, opening times and booking information in City and Hackney click here. 

For centres, opening times and booking information in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest click here.

Q: Can people book without their NHS number or if they aren’t registered with a GP?

While the NHS will write to people based on their GP records, this doesn’t mean that people that don’t have an NHS number or aren’t registered with a GP won’t be able to get vaccinated through the programme. 

You do not need to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to get vaccinated

It does however help to be registered with a GP to help the NHS check for any reasons that someone might not be able to have a vaccine, and ensure there is a record that both doses of the vaccine have been had. Details of how to register with a GP are available here.   

Q: I’m a UK student, how do I get vaccinated?

Students will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine when their age or clinical risk group become eligible. If you receive an invitation, please do act on it as soon as possible. Millions of people are already benefiting from protection from the virus. 

Students can receive their second dose in a different location to their first dose, this includes if you have received your first dose in Wales, Scotland or NI. If you are registered with any GP practice and become eligible, you can book your appointments online through the National Booking Service at a location that is convenient to you, regardless of where you are registered. 

You may also receive an invitation from your GP through text or a phone call. You may sometimes get a letter at the address that is registered with your GP practice. You do not need to wait to be contacted to book via the National Booking Service if you are eligible. 

If you aren’t registered with a GP you can find out how to register here nhs.uk/register  or you can request to book Covid-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice. 

Q: Are international students eligible for the vaccine?

Anybody in the UK is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. International students in England can receive the Covid-19 vaccine for free when their age or clinical risk group becomes eligible. 

International students can approach their local GP practice, saying they would like to register for the purposes of receiving the vaccine. You can find out how to register here nhs.uk/register.

If a person has received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose provided that they are eligible. 

If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, the student should contact a GP to ensure they receive an appropriate vaccine for their second dose. 

Q: I received an invitation letter but was not able to attend for a vaccination. Have I missed out?

You do not need to wait to be contacted and anyone aged 18 or over can book a vaccination at over 50 sites across north east London now. 

Q: What if people can’t get to the vaccination centre?

People who are housebound will be contacted by their GP services about alternative ways to get vaccinated. There are over 50 local vaccination sites across north east London so people can book one convenient for them. 

Q: What are the operating hours of the national telephone booking system?

The national telephone booking service (dial 119) for vaccination centres is open 16 hours a day (from 7am until 11pm), seven days a week. People are also able to book online 24/7. 

Q: Does the national phone line service work for people who don’t understand English well or are deaf?

The 119 phone line has interpreters and a BSL facility available on request to help you book your appointments. 

Q: How do I get a booster jab?

Booster jabs are now being offered to vulnerable adults to make sure they have a high level of protection as we head into winter, as research suggests the protection provided by vaccines decreases gradually over time. Boosters are available to:

  • all adults aged 40 years or over
  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • front line health and social care workers, and adult carers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19
  • adults who live with immunosuppressed people.

To be eligible, all individuals must also have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago. You will be give the Pfizer vaccine regardless of what you received for your first two doses.

You can use national booking system to book an appointment for a booster dose if it's been 5 months since your 2nd dose and you're in one of these groups. You'll be offered appointment dates from 6 months after the date of your 2nd dose.

Front line health and social care workers can go ahead and book their booster on the national booking system now if it has been 6 months since your second dose.

You can also now simply walk in to any of the sites on the ‘Grab a Jab’ NHS online walk-in finder and get your booster jab if it has been 6 months since your second dose, no need to book.

The table below shows the corresponding month you will become eligible for your booster following your second dose (6 months). 

Month of 2nd jab

March 2021

April 2021

May 2021

June 2021

July 2021

Aug 2021

Month in which you become eligible for booster

Everyone now eligible

Everyone now eligible

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022

 

 

Front line staff can also book their appointment on the National Booking Service now or by ringing 119 if it has been six months since their second dose. As part of the booking process, they will need to self-declare they are a frontline health or social care worker. When booking, they will be advised on the evidence they will need to provide at the vaccination site as of proof of employment. 

Q: Why is the booster a different vaccine from that first given?

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both being used as booster vaccinations.  They are both mRNA vaccines which have been shown to provide a good immune boost in studies, regardless of which vaccine was used for the primary course. Whilst the Moderna vaccine was not used widely in the UK for the first and second doses it has been used extensively elsewhere, particularly in the USA.   

The Cov-Boost trial published earlier this autumn by University Hospital Southampton indicated that the Pfizer vaccine was well tolerated as a third dose and provides a strong booster response. A half dose of the Moderna vaccine was also shown to be well tolerated and to provide a strong booster response.

Q: How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?

Second doses are really important to give you maximum protection from Covid-19. Given the increase in cases of the Delta variant, giving people the best possible protection from Covid-19 is vital. Emerging evidence, based on real-world data, suggests a better immune response when doses are given at least 8 weeks apart.  

Anyone who books through the National Booking Service will be offered their second dose appointment 8 to 12 weeks after their first dose appointment. You can also log in via the system and book a new appointment for after 8 weeks. Second vaccinations are not being offered sooner than 8 weeks after the first.  

This animation explains why they are so important. 

Q: Will there be second doses for 16-17 year olds?

People aged 16-17 are now being offered second doses of the vaccines as long as it has been 12 weeks since the first. You can book these now on the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here

Q: Are there third jabs for people with a severely weakened immune system?

People who have a severely weakened immune system are to be offered a third Covid-19 jab. This extra dose will be offered to anyone over 12 who was severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV, and recent organ transplants. 

This recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is separate from a potential booster programme. A booster is designed to extend the already strong protection someone has received from their first and second jabs, this third dose is for people whose compromised immune systems mean two are insufficient. The and people who it applies to will be contacted for their third dose. 

You can read a detailed Q&A from NHS England on third doses for people with a severely weakened immune system here.

If you are 18 or over, immunosuppressed and eligible for a third primary Covid-19 vaccine dose you can book your vaccine using the national booking system. Children and young people aged 12 to 17 can get a 3rd dose at a walk-in vaccination site if they have a letter from a GP or hospital confirming their eligibility.

Q: I had my first vaccine. How do I book an appointment for my second vaccine?

Q: Can I have a different vaccine for my second dose?

You should have the same vaccine wherever possible. In exceptional circumstances where individuals cannot access the same vaccine for their second dose, or if the first product received is unknown, it is reasonable to be offered one dose of the locally available product to complete the schedule. In these circumstances, as the vaccines are based on the spike protein, it is likely the second dose will help to boost the response to the first dose. For this reason, until additional information becomes available, further doses would not then be required. The full guidance is available here. 

Q: What do I do if I had a first dose of the vaccine abroad? 

If a person received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose. If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, a similar alternative can be offered.  The full guidance is available here. 

Q: I cannot book my second dose vaccine until 13 or 14 weeks after my first dose. What should I do? 

Having a second dose after 12 weeks is fine. Please don't worry. If you aren't able to book in week 12 (for instance if you are ill or if the site you originally attended is full on the days you can attend), just book as soon as is convenient after the 12 weeks.  

 

Q: How do I get a NHS Covid Pass?

You can access your Covid Pass in the NHS App if you are registered with a GP (this is not the same as the NHS Covid-19 App). If you are not registered with a GP you can access your Covid Pass through the NHS website or you can request a letter for travel purposes by calling 119. The Covid Pass is only available to individuals who are over 18 (or over 16 for travel purposes) and have been fully vaccinated by the NHS in England. 

Information on how to get the digital or paper covid pass is here.

Only citizens aged 13 years and older can access the NHS App.

If you're aged 16 or over, you can get a digital NHS COVID Pass for travel.

If you're 18 or over, you can also use your digital NHS COVID Pass for domestic events and venues. People under 18 do not have to show proof of their vaccination or test results for domestic events or venues in England. 

You can get a COVID Pass Letter if:

  • you're aged 16 or over
  • you're fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine used in the UK
  • you had your vaccination in England or the Isle of Man
  • you’re registered with a GP in England or the Isle of Man 

A GP is NOT able to issue a pass or any form of documentation that is valid for travel. 

Persons travelling should always consult the ever changing requirements for entry into countries they intend to travel to.  Some countries for example will allow children access if they are travelling with fully vaccinated adults with no requirements for testing, other countries insist that children have PCR tests prior to travel. 

There is no current planned change to citizens under the age of 16 being able to access a COVID Pass for travel.

Q: What can I expect after my Covid vaccination?

This PHE leaflet contains information for people who just had their COVID-19 vaccination. 

Q: Can I go back to work after having my vaccine?

Yes, you should be able to work as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving. More guidance is here

Q: Once I’ve been vaccinated do I have to follow the guidance or can I start meeting with friends and family?

It is vital that everyone follows the national guidance. While the vaccine will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill it does not give 100% protection and it may not stop you from catching and passing on the virus, so it is still important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you. Please find the latest guidance here. 

Q: I’ve heard I can show my Covid-19 vaccination status on the NHS App?

Yes, the NHS App (not NHS track and trace) can show your vaccinations status. The Covid-19 vaccination status is available to people who live in England and are registered with a GP. This allows you to show others that you’ve had a full course of the Covid-19 vaccine when travelling abroad to some countries or territories. For full details on how to demonstrate your status and how to access this, please visit the gov.uk website here.

A Q&A from a recent event with input from GPs and clinical experts can be found here. View the full recorded event and Q&A session here.

Q: Can the vaccines cause infertility?

There is nothing in the vaccine that can affect the fertility of women or men. 

The RCOG and the RCM respond to misinformation around Covid-19 vaccine and fertility

Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has said: “We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of Covid-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data. There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility. Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated have gone on to have fertility problems.” 

Dr Aruna Ramineni, consultant gynaecologist and lead for fertility at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, has developed a video explaining that there is no evidence of the vaccine having any effect on fertility. 

How does Covid-19 affect people in pregnancy and do vaccines help? 

Latest data shows that no pregnant women with both doses of the vaccine had been admitted to hospital. Since May, just three women had been admitted after having their first vaccine, almost all (98%) pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 had not been jabbed. 

The data also shows that one in five women admitted to hospital with serious Covid symptoms went on to give birth prematurely, and the likelihood of delivery by caesarean section doubled. One in five babies born to mothers with Covid symptoms were also admitted to neonatal units. 

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, has written to fellow midwives and GP practices across the country stressing the need to for pregnant women to get the jab to protect them and their baby. 

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Every day our members are seeing very sick pregnant women with Covid-19 in hospital and the majority are unvaccinated. We want to reassure pregnant women that Covid-19 vaccines are the safest and best way to protect you and your baby from severe illness and premature birth.”

Q: What is the advice for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding?

The JCVI has issued advice confirming that all pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine based on their age and clinical risk group. The decision comes after real-world data from the US showed about 90,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated without any safety concerns. The advice has been welcomed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.  

There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines in relation to pregnancy.  

The advice, published in Public Health England’s Green Book, a clinical professional guide for vaccinators in the UK, still advises that pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their clinician, including the latest evidence on safety and which vaccines they should receive. 

The Green Book states (for pregnancy) that: 

“There is no known risk associated with giving inactivated, recombinant viral or bacterial vaccines or toxoids during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding (Kroger et al., 2013). Since inactivated vaccines cannot replicate, they cannot cause infection in either the mother or the fetus.” 

and 

“Although clinical trials on the use of Covid-19 vaccines during pregnancy are not advanced, the available data do not indicate any harm to pregnancy. JCVI has therefore advised that women who are pregnant should be offered vaccination at the same time as non-pregnant women, based on their age and clinical risk group.” 

And (for breastfeeding): 

“There is no known risk associated with being given a non-live vaccine whilst breastfeeding. JCVI advises that breastfeeding women may be offered any suitable Covid-19 vaccine. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for immunisation against Covid-19; at the same time, women should be informed about the absence of full safety data for the vaccine in breastfeeding.” 

Q: What is the second dose guidance for pregnant women? 

PHE’s Green Book advises that ‘Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age, because of more extensive experience of their use in pregnancy. Pregnant women who commenced vaccination with AstraZeneca, however, are advised to complete with the same vaccine’. ‘If a woman finds out she is pregnant after she has started a course of vaccine, she may complete vaccination during pregnancy using the same vaccine product (unless contra-indicated). Alternatively, vaccination should be offered as soon as possible after pregnancy.’ 

Q: I am wanting to become pregnant. Should I have the vaccine?

There is no link between the Covid-19 vaccine and infertility. Not only is there no evidence that vaccines cause fertility problems in men or women, medical experts say there is no realistic way they could. Rumours circulating on social media are false. 

Q: Can people who have had recurrent miscarriages have the vaccine?

Yes. There is no reason to postpone having your Covid-19 vaccine as it does not affect your likelihood of having a miscarriage. 

Q: Can I have the vaccine whilst undergoing IVF?

Yes you can. You may wish to consider the timing of having a Covid-19 vaccine during your fertility treatment, taking into account that some people may get mild side effects such as feeling tired or feeling a bit achy or sick in the few days after vaccination that they do not want to have during treatment. Your medical team will be able to advise you about the best time for your situation.

Q: If I have an allergy should I have the vaccine? 

There is a specialist north east London allergy clinic for people who may experience allergic reaction to the Covid vaccines. At risk people are identified by, and referred directly, by their GP. If you have a history of allergic reaction or have any concerns about the vaccine please contact your GP.

Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them. A second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination. 

Everybody will also be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions, and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just like with any other vaccine. 

Further advice from the MHRA for people with allergies can be found here. 

Q: Should people who have already had Covid-19 get vaccinated?

Yes. Having the vaccine is safe and effective and at present, it is unclear if previous infection with Covid-19 results in long-term immunity. Therefore, when you are invited for your vaccination, you should attend even if you have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past or have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies. If you currently have symptoms or are self-isolating to stop the spread of the virus please do not attend a vaccination clinic. Generally you should wait for around 28 days after the onset of Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test (this can be reduced in certain circumstances). 

Q: Should people who are suffering from ‘Long Covid’ get vaccinated?

Yes. The MHRA have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t, including those who have mild residual symptoms. Where people are suffering significant ongoing complications from Covid they should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine now with a clinician.

 Q: I’m healthy, do I need to get vaccinated? / is the vaccine compulsory?

Even if you are healthy you should get vaccinated. Although the Covid-19 vaccine is not compulsory, it gives you the best protection against coronavirus. 

Q: I have very limited mobility and am extremely vulnerable and shielding. I’m worried how far I will have to go for my vaccine. Where will my vaccination take place?

If you have concerns about accessing the vaccine you discuss this with your GP surgery and explain about your mobility to discuss a solution that best meets your needs. We are committed to ensuring that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely.

Q: I’ve been staying with relatives during the pandemic and can’t access my GP practice for the vaccine. How can I get a vaccine near where I am staying?

If you are staying away from your usual place of residence temporarily you can register as a temporary patient at a practice near where you are staying. This will allow you to have your primary care medical needs taken care of while living away from home. The local practice where you register should be able to redirect you to a local vaccination provider. You can find out more about temporary registration here. 

Q: I am 16 and live with an immunosuppressed adult. Can I get a vaccine?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems, such as those with blood cancer, HIV or those on immunosuppressive treatment including chemotherapy.  If you fall into this category you can contact your GP or you can book an appointment using the national booking system

Q: My family are saying they won’t get vaccinated, what should I do?

People are advised to make their own choice based on the information and facts from NHS and government organisations. Although not compulsory, the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective and it gives you the best protection against coronavirus. 

Q: I’m from overseas. Will having the vaccine impact my immigration status in the UK?

Overseas visitors to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will not be charged for: 

  • testing for Covid-19 (even if the test shows they do not have Covid-19)
  • treatment for Covid-19, including for a related problem called multisystem inflammatory syndrome that affects some children
  • vaccination against Covid-19 

No immigration checks take place for overseas visitors related to testing, treatment or vaccination for Covid-19. For more information read the Covid-19: migrant health guide.   

As an overseas visitor in England you can register and consult with a GP without charge. You do not need proof of address or immigration status. Details of how to register with a GP are available here.   

Q: Is vaccination mandatory, and what happens if health and social care staff don’t want the jab?

The Covid-19 vaccine is not currently compulsory, however, local health and social care employers will be working hard to ensure staff are able to get vaccinated, and that any concerns that staff have are answered. We are confident that most staff will protect themselves and their patients by getting the vaccine. 

Q: I have a hearing impairment, are there any sites that offer British Sign Language interpretation services?

British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation is available at all COVID-19 vaccination sites through ‘SignVideo’ which allows a user to instantly connect to a remote BSL interpreter during their vaccination appointment.
You can access SignVideo by downloading the app on your smartphone and selecting the “NHS 119 – COVID Testing & Vaccinations” button located within the SignDirectory (under “N” in the directory). The app is free to download and use.
If you are already registered with ‘InterpreterNow’, you can access SignVideo using your existing log-in credentials.
 

Why do 16-17 year olds need the vaccine?

For people in this age group the first dose of the vaccine will provide 80% protection against hospitalisation. Protection could be even higher as younger people respond better to vaccines and some will have already had the Covid-19 infection, meaning they will have an even better response to a first dose. 

There now nearly 100 vaccination centres in north east London. Everyone aged 16 and over can get a vaccine and we urge anyone who has not yet had their first vaccine to get theirs.

Everyone over 16 can now book via the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here. People aged 16-17 can walk into the vaccination centres listed here or find a local vaccination service here without an appointment (no need to book, just turn up) and get your jab now. You do not need to come with a parent/guardian.

People aged 16-17 are now being offered second doses of the vaccines as long as it has been 12 weeks since the first. You can book these now on the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here

How do I know the vaccine is safe for my child? 

The JCVI has reviewed extensive clinical evidence for the safety of giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children and young people in the eligible groups and have determined it to be safe and effective. The JCVI has determined that the benefit of vaccinating children in these groups outweighs the risks. 

Information on the COVID-19 vaccination for children and young people aged 12 to 15 years is here. 

Which type of COVID-19 vaccination should 16-17 year olds be offered? 

The Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine is the only vaccine authorised for those aged 16 and 17¾. At this time, JCVI advises that 16-17 year olds should be offered a first dose only. (alongside the existing offer of two doses of vaccine to 16 to 17 year olds who are in “at risk” groups). 

What about a second vaccine? 

People aged 16-17 are now being offered second doses of the vaccines as long as it has been 12 weeks since the first. You can book these now on the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here

Q: Can 12-15s get a jab?

Everyone aged 12 and over can book your vaccine using the national booking system, calling 119, or where possible, book directly with, or walk into, a local vaccination centre - Full details of where and how you can do this are here.

Why is the NHS only vaccinating some children and young people against COVID-19, and not all? 

The NHS vaccinates in line with guidance from the independent JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), which provides expert advice on vaccinations to UK health departments. The JCVI recommends that only certain groups of children and young people are vaccinated because of a combination of factors including their risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, passing it to others who may become seriously ill, and evidence of safety and effectiveness.


Updated: 01/12/2021