Covid-19 Vaccine - January 14, 2022

Booster Vaccine - everything you need to know

Covid-19 Vaccine - January 14, 2022

With the winter season stresses and strains, along with the rise of the Omicron variant, it is important to get vaccinated and boosted in order to protect you and those around you. Getting the Covid-19 booster can help you maintain high levels of protection against hospitalisation, severe illness or dying. It is also a key way to reduce the strain on the NHS - which in turn preserves the health and wellbeing of the wider community for other urgent medical needs.

Who can get a COVID-19 booster dose? 

Currently in the UK, you can get a booster dose if you had a 2nd dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 3 months ago and: 

  • you are aged 18 or over you are aged 16 or over with a health condition that puts you at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 

  • you are a frontline health or social care worker 

  • you live or work in a care home 

  • you are aged 16 or over and are a main carer for someone at high risk from Covid-19 

  • you are aged 16 or over and live with someone who has a weakened immune system (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) 

How to get your booster dose 

If you're eligible, you 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

Which COVID-19 vaccine will I get? 

Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine. 

This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your 1st and 2nd doses. This is because mixing Covid-19 vaccines offers advantages in enhanced immune response and, therefore, anticipated enhanced protection. To read more about how mixing and matching vaccines can produce a stronger antibody response, click here.

What about the flu vaccine? 

Most people who can get a booster dose of the COVID-19 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.

Can I still catch Covid-19 after having a booster?

Yes, it is still possible to catch Covid-19 after having a booster dose - although it is less likely.

Getting the booster will reduce your risk of becoming seriously unwell if you do catch the virus, as well as offering you longer-lasting protection. 

Studies have shown very high protection after one or two weeks after the booster jab.

A recent trial by Pfizer suggests that from seven days onwards, a booster dose of Pfizer is extremely effective at preventing illness from Covid-19.

What if I have tested positive for Covid-19, or feel ill?

If you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, you should not attend your booster appointment. You should take a test and self-isolate until you get your results.

If you test positive, you need to wait four weeks (28 days) from the day of your positive test to have a booster.

If you receive a negative test, and are feeling well enough, you may attend your appointment.

If you still feel unwell and your symptoms are contagious, for example if you have a cough or cold, it might be considerate to postpone your appointment to avoid passing it on to other people.

Is the booster jab an updated vaccine?

No, the vaccines being used as boosters have not changed, altered or updated. Studies have shown that a booster dose of the original vaccine offers very high levels of protection against Covid-19.

What are the side effects of the booster?

Side effects from the booster are usually similar to those experienced after a second dose. If you do experience side effects, they are likely to be mild and last no more than a few days.

The most common side effects of the booster are:

  • pain or heaviness in the arm and shoulder area where you had the injection,

  • feeling tired

  • a headache

  • fever or chills

  • aches or muscle pain

  • general flu like symptoms

These are normal side effects to have after receiving a vaccine and should cause you no worry. You can take paracetamol to treat them, if you feel it is necessary.

If you have a fever following your booster jab that lasts longer than a couple of days, or you have any other Covid-19 symptoms, stay at home and get a test.

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