Covid: What do under-30s need to know about the vaccine?

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

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The government has announced that everyone aged 16 and over will now receive the Covid vaccine.

More than 1.4 million teenagers will be included in the new rollout.

Why is the vaccine rollout being extended?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation - the independent advisory body on vaccines - says that 16 and 17-year-olds should all be offered the vaccine.

They are to be offered a first dose but it has not been decided yet how soon they should receive a second vaccine.

Until now the UK has stopped short of offering the vaccine to under-18s, except for over-12s with underlying conditions or those who live with others at high risk).

There are currently no plans to offer the jab to 12-15-year-olds in the UK.

How many young people have been vaccinated?

Under-30s only became eligible for the Covid vaccine in June.

About two-thirds of 18-29-year-olds in England have received at least one jab. In Scotland, the figure is about 70%.

Do I have to have the vaccine?

Covid vaccines are not compulsory, but everyone is being urged to get two doses to protect themselves, their family, friends and wider society.

Younger people are less likely to die from Covid-19. But a study found under-50s who do end up in hospital are almost as likely to suffer from complications with kidneys, lungs and other organs.

Without a jab you may not be able to do certain jobs. And some countries only allow fully vaccinated travellers to enter.

media captionCovid vaccine: How are young people responding to the jab?

People with both jabs don't have to self-isolate on return to the UK from amber list countries, with the exception of France.

The government has also said clubbers and people attending some other venues in England will have to be fully vaccinated by the end of September.

How can I get my vaccine?

In England, book online or call 119. There are also walk-in clinics where you don't need an appointment. Check your local health providers and social media groups for details.

In Scotland, over-18s can register on the NHS inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013. Over-18s can also get jabbed without an appointment at various mass vaccination centres. Check local websites and social media for details.

In Wales, over-18s have been offered the vaccine.

In Northern Ireland, over-18s can book online or call 0300 200 7813

What vaccine will I get and can I choose?

You can't choose what vaccine you get. It's based on your age and whatever vaccines are available at the time.

If you're under 40 or pregnant you will be offered Pfizer or Moderna.

You will not be offered AstraZeneca because of a possible link between the vaccine and extremely rare blood clots in a tiny number of people.

Under-18s will be offered Pfizer, as Moderna has not yet been licensed for this age group in the UK.

What are the side effects?

Most are mild, completely normal and disappear after a few days.

They happen because the body's defences are reacting to the vaccine, and include:

  • a sore arm
  • tiredness
  • fever
  • headache
  • feeling sick

A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and you should discuss any allergies you have before vaccination.

There have been reports that a very small number of young people developed inflammation of the heart muscle after receiving the vaccine. However, they would be much more likely to develop the condition from Covid itself.

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

Can I drink alcohol after the vaccine?

There is no published data on how alcohol might affect your immunity after the vaccine.

There's no evidence to suggest you should avoid alcohol altogether, but drinking in large quantities can suppress your immune system.

Does the vaccine affect periods?

This may be because the jab prompts an increase in activity in the immune system, which also plays a role in the menstrual cycle.

media captionWhy it's recommended you get the Covid vaccine if you're pregnant

What if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

Coronavirus can cause serious illness in some women in later pregnancy, and possibly a slightly higher rate of stillbirth.

You are encouraged to discuss any questions you have with your GP or midwife.

If you're planning a pregnancy or are breastfeeding you can still get vaccinated, government guidance says.

What if I've got long Covid?

A recent study suggests vaccination can help improve long Covid symptoms.

The vaccine could be pressing the body's reset button and helping it recover, researchers say.

What's the point of getting the Covid vaccine if people are still ending up in hospital?'

The risk of becoming ill from Covid is reckoned to be 90% lower if you've had the vaccine.

It is not perfect, however, which means, unfortunately, a few people will still get infected and may need hospital care. And a small number will sadly die.

But evidence from around the world shows Covid vaccines are very effective and will save many save lives.

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