Covid: Who can have a booster jab and how can you get one?

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The UK government is buying 114 million more doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, following the announcement that a booster will be offered to all adults.

Twelve to 15-year-olds will also be offered a second dose.

When can I have the booster?

You will be offered a booster dose three months after your second dose (or third, if you have a weakened immune system).

Vulnerable people will be contacted first, followed by older age groups, then younger ones.

The UK and Scottish governments have said all eligible adults will be offered a booster by the end of January - although some may be given at a later date.

Rather than contact the NHS for an appointment, "people should wait to be called", Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.

Wales will increase capacity in clinics and drive-through centres and will work with GPs and others - including soldiers and firefighters - to deliver vaccines.

Northern Ireland has announced extra vaccination clinics.

Why do I need a booster?

A booster is an extra dose of vaccine which prolongs protection, and can cut the risk of infection by more than 93%.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being used. regardless of what you received for earlier jabs.

A UK trial of seven different drugs has found that these give the best overall boost response, although all the vaccines raised immunity to some degree.

Researchers also said there were promising signs the boosters would still protect against illness and death from Omicron.

Do vaccines work against Omicron?

It's not yet known whether current vaccines are as effective against the new variant. Early evidence suggests it may have a higher re-infection risk.

However, when faced with other Covid variants, such as Delta, vaccines have still reduced the risk of severe illness.

If necessary, pharmaceutical companies say they could update vaccines to resist Omicron in about 100 days.

What if I'm ill or have had Covid?

If you've tested positive you must wait four weeks (28 days), from the date of the test, before having your booster.

Children aged 12 to 17 should wait 12 weeks after a positive test, because of an extremely small risk of heart inflammation. The longer gap doesn't apply to children at higher risk.

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

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Which children are being vaccinated?

All 16 and 17-year-olds can now book a second dose of the Pfizer jab - this will normally be given 12 weeks after their first.

All 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK are being currently offered a single Pfizer Covid jab and will be offered a second three months after the first.

No vaccine is currently approved for under-12s in the UK.

Is the Covid vaccine compulsory?

No. but all frontline NHS staff in England (with some exceptions) will have to be fully vaccinated by 1 April.

Care home staff in England must now be vaccinated (unless exempt).

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland require Covid passports to enter some venues and events.

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What if I haven't had my first or second vaccine?

You can still book your first or second jab. You need to wait eight weeks between the first and second, and a further three months before your booster.

The government has particularly urged pregnant women to come forward.

What about 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

And 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.