Booster doses

A coronavirus (COVID-19) booster vaccine dose helps improve the protection you have from your first two doses of the vaccine.

It helps give you longer-term protection against becoming severely unwell or needing admission to hospital due to COVID-19 infection this winter. If you are eligible for a booster, please book it without delay.

On 29 November 2021, JCVI published an announcement that boosters will be offered to everyone aged 18 and over, from 3 months after their second dose. We will let you know when these new groups of people can come in for their jabs. For the time being, please do not come for your booster unless you are over 40 and at least 6 months since your 2nd jab.

From Monday 22 November, everyone aged 40 and over who had their second dose at least 6 months ago can get a booster dose.

Who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine

Booster vaccine doses are available for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a 2nd dose of a vaccine at least 6 months ago.

This includes:

  • people aged 40 and over
  • people who live and work in care homes
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • people aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • people aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
  • those experiencing homelessness 
  • people aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • long-term lung conditions (such as severe asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis)
  • long-term conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels (such as congenital heart disease, heart failure and peripheral arterial disease)
  • long-term kidney disease
  • long-term liver conditions (such as cirrhosis and hepatitis)
  • conditions affecting the brain or nerves (such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral palsy or stroke)
  • severe or multiple learning disabilities
  • Down’s syndrome
  • diabetes
  • problems with the spleen or the spleen has been removed (splenectomy)
  • severe obesity (a BMI of 40 or above)
  • severe mental conditions (such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder)
  • a condition or treatment that makes you more likely to get infections
  • a condition your doctor advises puts you at high risk

People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.

How and when to get your COVID-19 booster vaccine

Most people can:

  • book a vaccination appointment online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
  • go to a walk-in vaccination site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
  • wait to be contacted by a local NHS service such as a GP surgery and book an appointment with them

You can book online if it’s been 5 months (152 days) since you had your second dose. You will be offered an appointment from 6 months after the date of your second dose.

People who work for an NHS trust or a care home will usually get their booster dose through their employer.

Book your vaccination appointment online

You can book your COVID-19 booster dose online if it’s been 5 months (152 days) since you had your 2nd dose and you are:

  • aged 40 and over
  • aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19

You’ll be offered appointment dates from 6 months after the date of your 2nd dose.

Frontline health and social care workers can book an appointment online if it’s been at least 6 months (182 days) since their 2nd dose.

You can get your booster dose at a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site if you had your 2nd dose at least 6 months ago and you are:

  • aged 40 and over
  • aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19 – you’ll need to bring your letter inviting you to get your booster dose or a letter from your doctor about your health condition
  • a frontline health or social care worker – you’ll need to bring proof of your employment such as your workplace photo ID, a letter or a payslip from your employer within the last 3 months

If you do not get a letter but you have a health condition and you think you’re eligible, contact your GP surgery.

Booster vaccines will be given across North Central London at vaccination centres, pharmacies, and GP surgeries. When it is your turn to book, you will be offered an appointment at a location convenient to you.

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.

Most people who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine. If you are offered both vaccines, it’s safe to have them at the same time.

The COVID-19 booster and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and for people that are eligible for both, there may be opportunities to have both together. We would encourage you to get your vaccinations as soon as possible and get fully protected rather than waiting as it may not always be possible to get them together.

Find out more about the flu vaccine

If you are offered the COVID-19 vaccine or flu vaccine, it is important to have them as promptly as possible to help boost your immunity. So, if you are easily able to travel to the vaccination location, please accept either vaccination when it is offered to you and don’t delay – you will still be able to have the other vaccination when it is available in your area.

As with your previous dose the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK, and include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around one to two days after the vaccine
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • general aches, or mild flu like symptoms. You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better.

Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for two to three days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection. Although a fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination, if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and arrange to have a free PCR test. Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111.

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.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that adult carers should be offered the COVID-19 booster vaccine.

Unpaid carers who are in receipt of or entitled to a Carer’s Allowance, and those previously identified in Phase 1, will be called for a booster vaccination.

Unpaid carers who are eligible for a booster but have not been called should contact their GP practice. We also encourage all unpaid carers who do not have a ‘carer’s flag’ on their primary care record to make themselves known to GP practices as this provides a sustainable approach for identifying unpaid carers for any future vaccinations.

Further guidance about COVID-19 for those who provide unpaid care to family or friends

If you have not yet had either of your first two doses of the vaccine you should have them as soon as possible. You will still need the booster but the timing of it will depend on when you had your first two doses

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