Booster doses

A coronavirus (COVID-19) booster vaccine helps improve the protection you have from earlier doses. It helps give you longer-term protection against becoming severely unwell or needing admission to hospital due to COVID-19 infection.

There are 3 types of booster for the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • A 1st booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is available for everyone aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, who have had a 2nd dose of the vaccine at least 3 months ago.
  • A booster dose (4th dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine is available for anyone who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their first 2 doses and who had a 3rd dose of the vaccine at least 3 months ago.
  • A spring booster of the COVID-19 vaccine is available to people aged 75 and over, people who live in a care home for older people and people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system.

If you have not had a booster dose yet, they are still available and you can book anytime. COVID-19 is still active, and the vaccine offers the best protection against becoming seriously unwell and passing the virus on to others.

Spring boosters

The NHS will contact those who are eligible to make a spring booster appointment, so people should wait until they hear from the NHS. The NHS will prioritise those whose clinical need is greatest, as it has throughout, starting with those who have had a bigger gap since their last dose, then working through the cohort to invite others who have waited less time. Everyone who is eligible will be offered a booster between three and six months after their last dose over the Spring and early Summer.

Booster vaccines are being given across North Central London at vaccination centres, pharmacies, and GP surgeries. When you book, you will be offered an appointment at a location closest to you, or find a walk-in vaccination site

Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Moderna vaccine or Pfizer vaccine.
This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your first and second doses. Some people may be offered a booster dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, for example if they are allergic to any of the ingredients or had a prior serious reaction.

All the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met the same strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. It is safe to have any vaccine offered to you as a booster.

You may experience some mild side effects from the booster dose, regardless of how you reacted to previous COVID-19 vaccines. Side effects are very mild, do not last for very long and not everybody will get them. Side effects can include a sore arm, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy, and feeling or being sick. If you do get these, a pain killer such as paracetamol is recommended.

If you had serious side effects after any previous dose you may be advised to avoid or delay further vaccination. You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist.

There are very few people who should not have a booster. However, if you had serious side effects or a severe reaction after any previous dose you should discuss this with your doctor or specialist.

It’s never too late to get your first, second or (if you were immunosuppressed at the time of one of these) a third dose of the vaccine. You do not need to be registered with a GP and can find a walk-in option, book an appointment or find more information at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccine. You can also book by calling 119 and asking for a translator if you need one.

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. Protection from the vaccine may be lower and may decline more quickly in these people. For this reason, people aged 75 years and over, those who live in care homes for older adults and those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system are being offered the spring booster.

JCVI’s advice is that people should wait until around six months since their last dose for maximum effectiveness, and people are asked to wait until they are invited by the NHS to book. People should wait to be contacted by the NHS. The NHS will begin inviting people from the week beginning 21st March and will offer a booster dose to all who are eligible during Spring and early Summer.

For spring boosters, you should wait until the NHS contacts you. For an initial booster dose (the first dose following your primary course), you can visit www.nhs.uk/covid-booster to find your nearest walk in option or book an appointment. You can also call 119 free of charge which also offers translators on request.

The JCVI advice is that people should wait until around six months since their last dose for maximum effectiveness, and people are asked to wait until they are invited by the NHS to book. However, provided they are in one of the eligible groups and they attend a site that accepts walk-ins for booster doses, they will not be turned away if it has been more than three months since their previous dose and they have not had COVID recently (see next answer).

Yes. You still need to get a booster dose of the vaccine for extra protection, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19. If you have recently recovered from the virus, you will need to wait before getting any dose of the vaccine. People will need to wait:

  • 4 weeks (28 days) if they are aged 18 years old or over, or aged 5 to 17 years old and at greater risk from COVID (see tables 3 and 4 on pages 16 and 22 of the Green Book)
  • 12 weeks (84 days) if they are aged 12 to 17 years old and not at greater risk from COVID

Vaccines have enabled the gradual and safe removal of restrictions on everyday life over the past year.

Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, we are able to get back to doing the things we love. However, COVID-19 is still out there and there are still people in hospital unwell with the virus.

Make sure you stay up to date with your vaccines for the best possible protection and for extra reassurance that you’re keeping yourself and others safe.

The NHS is offering a Spring Booster in England to those who are most vulnerable from COVID-19, including people aged 75 and over. The NHS is also preparing to deliver an autumn dose of the vaccine, but whether this happens will depend on future recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

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

Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccination booster dose on GOV.UK