First and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccination
Everyone aged five years-olds (on or before 31 August 2022) and over can get a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have not had a first or second dose yet, you’re still eligible and can get them anytime.
If you have/have had COVID-19, you should wait until 28 days after a positive test, or 28 days after symptoms started to have the vaccine.
You can get a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by:
- Booking a COVID-19 vaccination online: Book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment online
- Find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination centre to get vaccinated without needing an appointment: Find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site
How long to wait between your first and second dose
Once you’ve had your first dose, you need to wait several weeks before getting your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.
You need to wait:
- Eight weeks (56 days) if you’re aged 18 or over
- 12 weeks (84 days) if you or your child are aged five to 17 years-old
- Eight weeks (56 days) if you or your child are aged 5 to 17 years-old and at high risk from COVID-19
Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
There are two booster doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine you may be able to get:
- A first booster for everyone aged 16 years-old and over, and some people aged 12 to 15 years-old who are at high risk from COVID-19, once they have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccination course
- A seasonal booster (winter booster) for some people, including those aged 50 years or over, those at high risk from COVID-19 or who are pregnant, and frontline health and social care workers
If you’ve not had a first booster dose yet, you’re still eligible and can book anytime. If you’re eligible for both, you only need one booster during the winter.
First booster for people aged 16 and over
If you’re aged 16 or over you can get a first booster dose if you:
- Have completed your primary COVID-19 vaccination course (first and second dose, plus an additional primary dose if you have a severely weakened immune system)
- Had your previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least three months ago
First booster for some children aged 12 to 15
You can get a first booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you are aged 12 to 15 and have:
- A weakened immune system or live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- A severe problem with the brain or nerves, such as cerebral palsy
- Down’s syndrome
- Severe or multiple learning disabilities (or you’re on the learning disability register)
- A condition that means you’re more likely to get infections (such as some genetic conditions or types of cancer)
You need to have completed your primary COVID-19 vaccination course (doses one and two) and had your previous dose at least three months ago to get a first booster dose.
You can book a COVID-19 vaccination online Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination – NHS (www.nhs.uk) at a vaccination centre, or find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination centre (no appointment needed).
If you’re aged 12 to 15, you’ll need to bring the letter, text or email inviting you to get a first booster dose. If you do not have an invitation, you can bring a letter from your GP or hospital specialist about your condition, or a letter from the GP or hospital specialist of the person you live with confirming that anyone they live with should get a first booster.
You can have a seasonal booster dose (winter booster) of the COVID-19 vaccine if you are:
- Over 50 years-old
- Aged five and over and at high risk due to a health condition
- Aged five and over and at high risk because of a weakened immune system
- Aged five and over and live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- Aged 16 and over and a carer, either paid or unpaid
- Living or working in a care home for older people
- A frontline health and social care worker
When to get your seasonal booster
You can have your seasonal booster (winter booster) if it’s been at least three months since you had your previous dose.
If you have not had a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine yet, you should have them as soon as possible. You can book appointments or find a walk-in location in the same way as for the booster.
If you have a severely weakened immune system, you should get an additional primary dose before you get a booster.
How to get a seasonal booster dose
To get a seasonal booster (winter booster) dose, you can:
- Book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment online at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
- Find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site across Birmingham and Solihull (no appointment needed)
Frontline health and social care workers may be offered the vaccination through their employer.
COVID-19 booster dose and flu vaccine
Some 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.
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given
The vaccine is given by injection into the arm. You will be asked which arm you wish to have it in – we recommend if you are right-handed to have it in your left arm and vice versa.
Accessing a vaccination
In order to get the vaccine, you will either need to book an appointment at a local vaccination centre or visit a walk-in session. There are 86 centres across Birmingham and Solihull – you can choose to attend a vaccination centre (a large dedicated centre), or a local vaccination service (such as a GP surgery or pharmacy taking part in the vaccination programme), whichever is more convenient for you.
What you need to know
The COVID-19 vaccine is our best defence against the virus, and will help protect you and your family and friends from potentially serious illness.
There are lots of reasons to have the jab:
- Safe and effective vaccine against a life-threatening virus
- Reduces spread of the virus among the community
- Reduces severity of illness including hospitalisation and ventilation
- Prevents complications in pregnancy and birth
- Protects extremely vulnerable
- Builds up immune system
- With winter on its way, now is the time to top up immunity with a booster to keep yourself and those you care for safe
The vaccine has been developed and approved following a number of clinical trials involving thousands of people across the world. It has also undergone mandatory safety tests to ensure it is safe for adults and children.
A booster vaccine should be taken no earlier than three months after completion of the primary vaccination course (first and second doses).
Which vaccine will be offered?
You will be given a booster dose of a vaccine made by either Pfizer or Moderna. You may be offered an updated combination version of these booster vaccines – the combination vaccines include a half-dose of the previous vaccine combined with a half-dose of a vaccine against the Omicron variant. For a very small number of people, another vaccine product may be advised by your doctor.
Both the previous and the combination vaccines boost protection.
Please accept the vaccination that is offered to you as soon as you are able to – it is important to have your seasonal booster and build up your protection against severe illness.
Pregnancy and fertility
Vaccination remains the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both mother and baby, including admission to intensive care and premature birth. Women with COVID-19 are two to three times more likely to have their babies early than women without COVID-19.
Pregnant women with underlying clinical conditions are at even higher risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19.
There is no need to avoid getting pregnant after COVID-19 vaccination.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on fertility or your chances of becoming pregnant.
Evidence on COVID-19 vaccines is being continuously reviewed by the World Health Organization and the regulatory bodies in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have a decision guide and other information you may find helpful COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy (rcog.org.uk – www.rcm.org.uk/guidance-for-pregnant-women).
If you would like to discuss COVID-19 vaccination, please contact your midwife, doctor, or nurse.
Should I have the vaccine if I’m pregnant?
Yes. The vaccine has been proven in clinical studies to be safe for women and their baby. Just like the flu jab, it’s recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that pregnant women get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to protect them and their baby as soon as possible.
Bottom line – if you struggle to breathe and need to be ventilated, your baby may be deprived of oxygen or develop fetal distress. You are also more likely to need an emergency caesarean to protect your own life. If you catch COVID-19 while you are pregnant you could be putting yourself and your baby at serious risk.
Can pregnant women have the vaccine?
Yes. The MHRA has advised that pregnant women can have the vaccine, however they recommend women discuss this with their clinical team first. Those who are breastfeeding can also have the vaccine.
Pregnant women are eligible for the booster three months after their primary vaccine course.
Does the vaccine affect fertility?
If you are trying to conceive, this should not affect your decision about vaccination. There is no evidence that the vaccines cause problems with fertility, or that they will cause any problems for women wanting to become pregnant now or in the future.
Women may wish to discuss the benefits and risks of having the vaccine with their healthcare professional and reach a joint decision based on individual circumstances. However, as for the non-pregnant population, pregnant women can receive a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have not had a discussion with a healthcare professional.
The JCVI also advises that there is no known risk in giving these vaccines to breastfeeding women.
The British Fertility Association and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists have produced a guide to COVID-19 vaccines and fertility: COVID-19 vaccines and fertility