Frequently Asked Questions (Spring 2022 - boosters)

Who is eligible for a spring booster?

Spring boosters are being offered to people aged 75 years and over, people living in care homes and people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system.

Why do these people need another booster?

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. Their protection from the vaccine may also be lower and decline more quickly, and most will have had their first booster around 6 months ago. They are therefore being offered a spring booster as a precaution so that if the number of infections increases, it will help to reduce their risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 or needing to be admitted to hospital.

When do people need to have their spring booster?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that eligible people should have their spring booster around six months after their last dose for maximum effectiveness. People will be invited by the NHS when it is their turn – this will start from 21 March and continue until the early summer.

How do I get my spring booster?

The NHS will contact you when it is your turn. This is likely to be by a letter or text from the National Booking Service, inviting you to make an appointment at a vaccination centre of your choice. You might also be contacted by your GP practice and offered an appointment but not all GP services are offering boosters so please only contact your GP about a spring booster if you receive an invitation. 

If you haven’t had your previous booster, you can visit www.nhs.uk/covid-booster to find your nearest walk in option or book an appointment. You can also call 119 free of charge, which also offers translators on request.

Can I go to a walk-in clinic for my spring booster?

We are asking people to wait until they are invited by the NHS and to book an appointment.This is because the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that people should wait until around six months since their last dose for maximum effectiveness so we are prioritising people according to when they had their previous booster.

Which vaccine will I be given?

As for the previous booster, you will be given either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. These have been shown to be the most effective vaccines for booster doses, no matter which vaccine you had before, and you do not need to have the same vaccine as you had for your previous booster.

I am eligible for a spring booster but have recently had COVID-19 so do I still need it?

Yes. You still need to get a booster dose of the vaccine for extra protection, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19. The vaccine gives people greater and longer-lasting protection than the antibodies you develop from having the virus. If you have recently recovered from the virus, you will need to wait 4 weeks (28 days) before getting your spring booster.

Why do I need a spring booster now that restrictions have been lifted?

The vaccines have enabled the removal of restrictions on everyday life but COVID-19 is still active and there are still people in hospital unwell with the virus. Getting your booster will make sure you get the best possible protection against the virus and keep yourself and others safe.

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.

Will I be expected to get more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the future?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is continuing to monitor all available data and evidence to determine how often vaccinations will be needed by different groups. The NHS is preparing to deliver an autumn dose of the vaccine but what is required and who will be eligible for it will depend on future recommendations from the JCVI.

Can I still get a first or second dose if I’ve not yet done so?

It’s never too late to come forward for your first or second dose and you do not need to be registered with a GP.  Details of local walk-in options are available on our website or you can book an appointment at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccine or by calling 119.  

Can I get a spring booster if I am not in one of the eligible groups?

No, these are only being offered to the groups that have been recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation because they are at particular risk from COVID-19. It is not possible to get a vaccine for any non-health related reasons, such as travel requirements.

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