Covid: How do I get the vaccine and will I need a booster?

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

image sourceGetty Images

Those with severely weakened immune systems who are over 12 should be given a third Covid vaccine, experts say.

Everyone aged 16 and over in the UK can already receive the Covid vaccine.

Will I get a booster jab?

This includes those with blood cancer, advanced HIV and recent organ or stem-cell transplants – who make up less than less than 1% of the population.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said people would be contacted “as soon as possible, to discuss their needs and arrange an appointment for a third dose”.

He said the separate booster programme prioritising those most at risk from Covid-19 was still planned to begin in September.

It suggested a booster jab could be offered alongside the flu vaccine.

However an exact start date has not yet been set, and we don’t know whether the booster scheme will be extended to all adults.

Whether all 12- to 15-year-olds will be offered a vaccine is yet to be decided.

Who’s being vaccinated at the moment?

The vaccine is also available for over-12s with underlying health conditions, or those who live with others at high risk.

NHS England has been told to prepare for the possibility of giving the jab to all children aged 12-15.

How do I get a vaccine?

In England adults and those within three months of turning 18 can book a jab online or by calling 119. You can also visit a walk-in clinic without an appointment.

All 16 and 17-year-olds are being invited to make an appointment through their GP.

In Northern Ireland, you can book online or call 0300 200 7813. Walk-in centres are open to older teenagers.

How soon should I get my second jab?

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the recommended gap is eight weeks.

image sourceGetty Images

What vaccine will I get?

The UK is using vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Moderna.

Under-18s are currently being offered Pfizer, although the Moderna vaccine has also been authorised for use in children in the UK.

Do vaccines work against different variants?

At the moment, the most common type of Covid in the UK is the Delta variant.

Researchers don’t yet have enough data to compare the Moderna jab, but believe it is “almost certainly at least as good as the others”.

Is vaccination compulsory?

It’s not compulsory, although the government is urging everyone who can have the vaccine to get it.

However, some jobs do require staff members to have the jab.

image sourceGetty Images

What’s the advice to pregnant women?

The Delta variant is causing more serious illness from Covid which means unvaccinated pregnant women and their babies are at risk.

Between May and July, at least 171 pregnant women with Covid needed hospital care. None of them had had both jabs.

What about side effects?

The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.

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

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

The clots are extremely rare. There have been 417 reported cases and 72 deaths after 24.8 million first doses and 23.9 million second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK.

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

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

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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