Covid booster: Who can get another jab this spring?

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Vaccination in GlasgowImage source, PA Media

Those most at risk from coronavirus will be offered another vaccination this spring.

Across the UK, more than 151 million Covid vaccine doses have been given.

Who can have a spring booster?

  • adults aged 75 years and over
  • residents in a care home for older adults
  • individuals aged five and over who are immunosuppressed

Those eligible will be offered the vaccine about six months after their previous dose.

Scotland's booster campaign will begin in the final week of March.

Vaccinations in England and Wales will start in early April, with Northern Ireland's rollout from mid-April.

People at higher risk from Covid are also expected to be offered a further booster vaccine dose in autumn 2023.

Who was able to get an autumn booster?

This was offered to a wider range of people:

  • people aged 50 and over
  • those aged five to 49 with health conditions that put them at higher risk - including pregnant women
  • care home staff
  • front-line health and social care workers
  • carers aged 16 to 49
  • household contacts of people with weakened immune systems

Anyone aged 16 or over - or an at-risk child aged 12 to 15 - who had received both primary jabs could have a booster.

People with a severely weakened immune system were offered an additional third primary dose before being offered a booster.

A free flu jab was also available to more people this winter - sometimes given at the same time as a Covid booster.

Which vaccine will people get?

Four different vaccines, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sanofi/GSK and Novavax are expected to be used in the spring booster programme.

Most doses should protect against the Omicron variant as well as previous ones.

Under-12s will be offered a children's formulation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Health officials advise people to take whichever booster they are offered, as all vaccines provide protection against becoming severely ill or dying from Covid.

First and second vaccine doses are either AstraZeneca or (for under-40s) Pfizer or Moderna.

How many people have been vaccinated against Covid?

According to the official figures, more than 151 million Covid vaccine doses had been administered in the UK as at 4 September, including:

  • 53.8 million people had a first dose (94% of over-12s)
  • 50.8 million had a second dose (88%)
  • 40.4 million had a booster or third dose (70%)

The 2022/2023 winter's Covid booster vaccination programme reached more than 18.7 million people across the UK:

  • 15.1 million people in England (as at 28 February)
  • 2 million people in Scotland (as at 2 March)
  • 1.1 million people in Wales (as at 6 March)
  • 500,000 people in Northern Ireland (as at 7 March)

In England, the figure equates to almost two-thirds of over-50s (65%).

In July 2022, a report from an influential committee of MPs warned that Covid vaccine take-up was too low for several important groups, including pregnant women, younger people and those from some ethnic backgrounds.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Some pregnant women complained they were not given enough information about the Covid jab

Which children can get jabbed?

All five to 11-year-olds in the UK can have two doses of a reduced-strength Covid vaccine, 12 weeks apart.

In addition:

  • all 12 to 15-year-olds are offered two doses of Pfizer
  • all 16 and 17-year-olds can have a booster, three months after their second jab
  • 12 to 15-year-olds in an at-risk group - or who live with someone with a weakened immune system - can have a booster

How do I book my Covid vaccine?

The NHS will contact people who are eligible for a spring booster dose.

Carers of five to 11-year-olds in Scotland and Wales should wait to be offered an appointment.

Twelve to 15-year-olds in Scotland and Wales should also be contacted directly, but can speak to the relevant helpline or local health board if not.

You should leave eight weeks between your first and second dose, and at least 12 weeks before having a booster.

The 2023 spring booster should be given six months after your last dose.

Image source, Getty Images

How long after Covid can I have a jab?

You should wait four weeks after a positive test, even if you had no symptoms.

Under-18s, who are not at higher risk from Covid, should wait 12 weeks. Those who are more vulnerable should wait four.

You should not have a jab if you have a severe illness or high fever.

The vaccines do not infect you with Covid and cannot cause positive test results.

What are the side effects?

They are part of the body's normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve themselves within a day or two.

Media caption,

Why it is normal for some people to experience short-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccines

A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction after the Pfizer vaccine.

You should discuss any existing serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.