Winter Vaccines FAQ's

To check if your are eligible for the Covid-19 booster vaccine, visit the National Booking Site here. 

To check if you are eligible for the flu vaccine, visit the NHS website here.

In July, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that a further dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to:

  • residents of care homes for older adults
  • front line health and social care workers
  • those eligible as outlined on the NHS website
  • people aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group (including pregnant women) or who are household contacts of people with a weakened immune system, and
  • people aged 16 to 49 years who are carers

COVID-19 vaccines and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and for people that are eligible for both, there may be opportunities to have both together. We would encourage you to get your vaccinations as soon as possible and get fully protected rather than waiting as it may not always be possible to get them together.

Yes, if you are eligible to receive these two vaccines, you may be offered both in the same appointment. It is safe to receive both vaccines in the same appointment. But it’s important that you do not wait to try and schedule both vaccinations at the same time as this may not be possible and could delay your protection over winter. Please take up the offer of each vaccine when you are invited to, even if they are on different dates.

If you receive both vaccines in one appointment but originally booked two, please do cancel the other appointment so that it becomes available for someone else.

The Covid-19 and flu are two separate viruses. In order to get protection from both viruses, you will need to get both vaccines.

More than 94% of England’s population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – saving lives, helping tens of thousands to stay out of hospital, and enabling us to return to lives we knew before the pandemic began.

However, the virus is still with us and is still making people very ill.

The JCVI has stated that winter will remain the season when the threat from COVID-19 is greatest for individuals and communities. Viruses, like COVID-19, spread much more easily in winter when we socialise indoors, so it’s important that everyone eligible tops up their protection with an autumn booster.

The aim is to protect the whole population and protect those at greatest risk from the virus against severe COVID-19 disease over winter.

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines have saved more than 100,000 lives and significantly reduced hospitalisations from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccination programme allows us to live with this virus without restrictions on our freedoms.

With both flu and COVID-19 expected to be circulating this winter, it’s important to boost your immunity and help protect yourself and others.

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few days for your body to build up some protection from the booster.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is 100% guarantee of not catching the virus – some people may still get COVID-19 despite getting vaccinated but this should be less severe.

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 it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.

Each of the vaccines are tested on tens of thousands of people across the world. They are tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, and of all age groups.

Latest data from UKHSA show that six months after receiving a second dose, two doses provide between 55% and 70% protection from needing to be hospitalised for Covid-19. This remains around 70% six months after receiving the booster.

You will receive a letter, email or text from the NHS when it is your turn to come forward.

For those who may not accept the use of porcine gelatine in medical products, an alternative vaccine is available.

If a child is at high risk from flu due to one or more medical conditions or treatments and can’t have the nasal flu vaccine they can have the flu vaccine by injection.

Criminals are using the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to target the public by tricking them to hand over cash or financial details. They are sending convincing-looking text messages letting people know they are eligible for the vaccine or phoning people directly pretending to be from the NHS, or local pharmacy.

The NHS will:

  • never ask for payment - the flu and Covid-19 vaccines are free
  • never ask for your bank details
  • never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
  • never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport

Common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 and Flu vaccines used in the UK, and include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around a day or two following the vaccination
  • 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. Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection.

Although a fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination, if you have any other COVID-19 symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home. Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111.

Worldwide, there have been very rare cases of inflammation of the heart called myocarditis or pericarditis reported after some vaccinations. 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

You cannot usually choose which vaccine you have. If you book online, you’ll only be offered appointments for vaccines that are suitable for you.

Most people can have any of the COVID-19 vaccines, but some people are only offered certain vaccines.

For example:

  • if you’re pregnant or under 40, you’ll usually be offered appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines
  • if you’re under 18, you’ll only be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna Vaccine.

This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccine you have had for your two doses.

No, all COVID-19 vaccines authorised for use in the deployment programme are highly effective and provide a strong booster response. When you attend your appointment, the NHS will offer you a safe, effective vaccine.


The updated booster vaccine made by Pfizer/BioNTech, targeting two coronavirus variants, has been approved for use in individuals aged 12 years and above. The adapted vaccine targets and protects against both the original virus and the Omicron variant, the first vaccine to offer protection for both strains of the virus.

Safety monitoring showed that the side effects observed were the same as those seen for the original Pfizer/BioNTech booster dose and were typically mild and self-resolving.

It is safe to have the new vaccine regardless of the brand of vaccine you had previously.

COVID-19 vaccines which target two different variants of COVID-19 are called bivalent vaccines. Bivalent vaccines broaden immunity and therefore potentially improve protection against variants of COVID-19. All vaccines used in the UK to date have been primarily targeted at the original strain of COVID-19 and have remained effective at preventing severe disease against subsequent variants.

All vaccines used in the UK must be authorised by our independent medicines’ regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Each COVID-19 vaccine candidate is assessed by teams of scientists and clinicians on a case-by-case basis and is only authorised once it has met robust standards of effectiveness, safety and quality set by MHRA. The MHRA has reviewed the available safety and efficacy data supporting Moderna’s bivalent vaccine and provided its authorisation.

If you are feeling unwell, for instance if you have a fever or have recently had a fever, it is better to leave a seven-day interval between the start of your symptoms began to when you have your vaccine. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating or waiting for a COVID-19 test.

If you are unwell on the day of vaccination for whatever reason, it may be appropriate to postpone vaccination until you have recovered. Those people with long term illness should present for vaccination when invited. If you are uncertain, please attend the vaccination service where healthcare professionals will be available who can advise you.

No, the JCVI advises that the booster vaccine should be offered no earlier than three months after completion of the primary vaccine course.

Everyone who is eligible that hasn’t already had their first or second COVID-19 vaccination will still be able to get vaccinated, even when the COVID-19 autumn booster programme begins.

If you've recently had a confirmed COVID-19 infection, you should ideally wait before getting any dose of the vaccine. You should ideally wait:

  • 4 weeks (28 days) if you're aged 18 years old or over
  • 12 weeks (84 days) if you’re aged 5 to 17 years
  • 4 weeks (28 days) if you’re aged 12 to 17 years old and at high-risk from COVID-19

This starts from the date your symptoms started or from the date of a positive test, whichever was earlier. If you had some symptoms but you are not sure if you had COVID-19, you should still attend for vaccination once your symptoms are better and you can discuss this with a healthcare professional when you attend.

If you're currently housebound and you think you’re eligible for a home vaccination, but you have not been contacted by the NHS to arrange this, contact your GP practice for support.

For the 2022 autumn booster programme, the primary objective is to boost immunity in those at higher risk from severe COVID-19 illness so that those people have optimal protection against severe COVID-19. In particular, the vaccine will help avoid those people being hospitalised or dying from COVID-19 over winter 2022/23. Throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 mortality has disproportionately affected those in older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, and those with certain underlying health conditions, particularly those who are severely immunosuppressed. Following vaccination, these same factors continue to identify those people who are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19.