COVID-19 is more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions. For these reasons, people aged 75 years and over, those in care homes who are older, and those aged 5 years and over with a weakened immune system are being offered a spring booster of COVID-19 vaccine.

You should be offered an appointment between April and June, with those at highest risk being called in first. You will be invited to have your booster around 6 months from your last dose, but you can have it from 3 months. If you are turning 75 years of age between April and June, you will be called for vaccination during the campaign, you do not have to wait for your birthday.

COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against COVID-19. Millions of adults and children around the world have had a COVID-19 vaccine.

The safety of the vaccines has been extensively reviewed in both adults and children by independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The vaccines continue to be monitored and reports of serious side effects are very rare.

Like some other vaccines, levels of protection may begin to wane over time.

The autumn booster helps to reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 or being admitted to hospital if you do.

Boosting your immunity should extend your protection and may give broader protection against new variants

The NHS vaccinates people in line with recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), as accepted by government

You will be given a booster dose of a vaccine made by Pfizer, Moderna or Sanof and approved in the UK. These vaccines have been updated since the original vaccines and target different COVID-19 variants.

For a very small number of people another vaccine product may be advised by your doctor. These updated vaccines boost protection well and give slightly higher levels of antibody against the more recent strains of COVID-19 (Omicron) than the vaccines you would have received previously.

As we cannot predict which variants of COVID-19 will be circulating this spring and summer, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have concluded that all of these vaccines can be used and that no one should delay vaccination to receive a different vaccine.

If you have a history of allergies, or if you had a reaction immediately after a previous dose, you may be advised to stay for 15 minutes after the vaccine. Please make sure you tell the vaccinator on site.

You may be invited for your booster, your GP may offer you the vaccine or you can book using the NHS app for Apple or Android. 

The clinical advice from JCVI experts is to wait until around six months since your last dose for maximum effectiveness and to get the most benefit from the vaccine. You should book when you’re invited by the NHS. However, if you are in one of the eligible groups and attend a site that accepts walk-ins for booster doses, you will not be turned away if it has been more than three months since your previous dose and you haven’t had COVID within the last 4 weeks.

COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended in pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both women and babies, including admission of the woman to intensive care and premature birth of the baby. In the UK, all pregnant women are urged to book their latest COVID-19 booster vaccine as they are recognised as a clinical risk group.

It's safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are breastfeeding.  You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccines and cannot pass it to your baby through your breast milk.

There are very few people who should not have this booster. If you have had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine you should discuss this with your doctor. Side effects Common side effects: As with your previous dose, the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines, including the updated vaccines being used this autumn and 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 fu-like symptoms You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help you feel better.

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 or visit NHS 111 online

Studies have shown very high protection begins one or two weeks after receiving the booster jab.

The COVID-19 booster will reduce the chance of you becoming severely unwell from COVID-19 this spring and summer. It may take a few days for your body to build up some extra protection from the booster. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but any infection should be less severe. If you have not had all your vaccinations If you have not yet had either of your first two doses of the vaccine (or a third dose for those with a weakened immune system) you should have them as soon as possible. If you are eligible and you have missed an earlier booster, you should have a dose this spring to catch up. You will not need another dose in the summer.