Covid booster: Who can get the fourth jab and how do you book it?

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Older and vulnerable people across the UK are entitled to an extra booster jab against Covid this spring.

All children aged five to 11 are also being offered two doses of a reduced-strength vaccination.

Who is being offered an extra booster dose?

Across the UK, a second booster is being offered to:

  • adults aged 75 and over
  • residents in care homes for older adults
  • those aged 12 and over with weakened immune systems

You can book an appointment online three months (91 days) after your previous dose. However, to get maximum protection, the NHS recommends having the spring dose around six months later.

A wider group of people will be offered an autumn booster, although the details of that programme haven't yet been confirmed.

How long after Covid can I get the booster?

Under-18s who aren't at high risk from Covid should wait 12 weeks after a positive test.

You shouldn't have the booster if you have a severe illness or high fever. However, patient information from Pfizer and Moderna says you don't need to delay for a mild fever or a cold.

The vaccines don't infect you with Covid, and can't cause positive results on a lateral flow or PCR test.

Which children are being vaccinated?

All five to 11-year-olds in the UK can have a low-dose Covid vaccine.

Children whose parents decide to take up the offer will be given two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, at least 12 weeks apart.

In addition:

  • the low-dose vaccine is already being offered to five to 11-year-olds with medical conditions that put them at greater risk from Covid
  • all children aged 12 to 15 are being offered two doses of Pfizer
  • 16- and 17-year-olds can have a booster, three months after their second jab
  • the government's vaccine advisors have also recommended that a booster be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds who are in an at-risk group or live with someone who is immunosuppressed

How do I book my Covid vaccine?

You can book jabs online, or go to a walk-in clinic, although not all centres are offering jabs to five to 11-year-olds so you may wish to check first.

You need to leave eight weeks between your first and second doses, and wait a further 12 weeks before a booster.

  • In England: You can book first or second doses for over-5s, and over-16s can book a third or booster dose online, by calling 119, or visiting a walk-in clinic
  • In Scotland: Over-16s can register for their first dose or book their second or booster dose online, or by calling 0800 030 8013
  • In Wales: Over-16s will be invited for their booster by their health board. If you've not been invited - or you've not had your first two doses - you can contact your health board
  • In Northern Ireland: Appointments for over-5s can be made online or by calling 0300 200 7813

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

What vaccine will I get?

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

Boosters are a single dose of either Pfizer or Moderna - regardless of which vaccine you received before.

However if you cannot have Pfizer or Moderna for medical reasons, you can have a booster dose of AstraZeneca.

Two other vaccines have also been approved for use in the UK - Janssen and Novavax, but these haven't been given to UK patients.

What are the side effects?

They are part of the body's normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve 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.