A booster is a further COVID-19 vaccination. In July 2022, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that an additional dose of COVID-19 should be offered to eligible groups ahead of winter, when viruses circulate most.
COVID-19 may affect you more seriously if you are in one or more of the groups eligible for a booster.
The virus is still with us, and is still making people very ill. The JCVI has stated that winter will remain the season when the threat from COVID-19 is greatest. Viruses like COVID-19 spread more easily in winter, so it’s important that everyone that is eligible tops up their protection.
Protection from previous doses of the vaccine may now be lower, and will continue to gradually decline. A further dose may help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital if you catch COVID-19.
It’s important that you receive the flu vaccination this year to help protect yourself and those around you. Flu is an unpredictable virus that can kill thousands of people during a flu season. There have been low levels of flu circulating in the last two years due to measures that were in place to reduce COVID-19 infections, such as social distancing and mask wearing. There is likely to be a resurgence of flu this winter, similar to, or higher than the levels before the pandemic because people will be mixing more. Flu and COVID-19 can both be life-threatening and spread more easily in the winter when we are more likely to be indoors or in crowded spaces.
It’s easy to pass on COVID-19 or flu without knowing. Even if you are healthy, you can still catch COVID-19 or flu and spread it to people at greater risk from these viruses. Getting vaccinated is the best way we have to protect yourself and those around you.
The NHS will prioritise protection of those at greatest risk, starting with people in the older age groups or people who are clinically more vulnerable. If you are eligible to have the booster vaccination, you will receive a text message, email, or letter from the NHS when it is your turn to come forward.
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering serious ill health due to COVID-19. With both COVID-19 and flu circulating this winter, it’s important to boost your immunity and help protect yourself and others.
Yes. As with any medicine, vaccines are highly-regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.
The NHS does not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public unless it is approved as safe and effective by the UK regulator. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, make this decision for each potential vaccine, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
For these vaccines, like lots of others, the MHRA have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed.
All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA.
More information on possible side effects can be found at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
There are no animal products listed in the ingredients.
These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.
Everybody will be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions, and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just like with any other vaccine.
The vaccine trials have involved people with underlying health conditions, from a broad age range. The MHRA has authorised the vaccine as safe to use and there is no indication that there should be any difficulty in administering to people with underlying health conditions.
Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency has shown that after six months of receiving the second dose of the vaccination, two doses provided between 60% and 70% of protection from needing to be hospitalised for COVID-19. This increased to around 90% shortly after having the first booster, around 85% at four to six months, and remains around 70% six months after the booster.
If you are unwell, wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine. If you have had confirmed COVID-19 you should ideally wait four weeks before having your booster. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating or waiting for a COVID-19 test.
The COVID-19 vaccine and natural infection stimulate different parts of the immune system, so they are complementary. Both wane over time, and it is not clear how much protection an infection from one variant provides against other strains of COVID-19. The vaccine gives extra protection after having the COVID-19 infection; however the vaccination must be given at least four weeks after infection.
It may take a few days to build up protection from the booster, but the vaccination reduces the chance of suffering severely from COVID-19. Like all vaccinations, no vaccine gives a 100% guarantee of not catching the virus. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite getting vaccinated, but this should be less severe.
Guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) states that vaccines should be offered to older adult care home residents, frontline health and social care workers, unpaid carers, and those who are aged 50 years-old and over. Anyone who is in a clinical risk group aged five to 49 years-old or are household contacts of people with immunosuppression, including pregnant women.
You can book a vaccination appointment at one of the 89 vaccine centres or attend one of the walk-in clinics across Birmingham and Solihull.
The COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine may be offered by your employer free of charge if you work in health or social care.
If you are not eligible for a booster but need a first or second dose you can still get a vaccination from sites across Birmingham and Solihull. If you haven’t had a booster dose yet, but have had your first and second dose you can still get one now providing it is three months since your second dose vaccination.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that the booster vaccine should be offered no earlier than three months after completion of the primary vaccine course.
Yes, if you are eligible for an autumn booster, you can book an appointment from three months after your last dose. You must have completed your primary course of vaccinations (first and second doses) before receiving any booster dose.
No, you need to finish the first (primary) course of vaccination; this is the first two doses. The booster vaccination is available from three months after your second dose.
No, all COVID-19 vaccines offered are highly effective and provide a strong booster response. In fact, the COVID-19 booster provides protection from the latest and more transmissible variants of the Omicron variant, the BA4 and BA5 strains – which earlier COVID-19 vaccinations did not provide. You cannot specify which vaccine you want to have – all vaccines are effective.
Everyone that is eligible that hasn’t already had their first or second COVID-19 vaccination will still be able to get vaccinated. We are encouraging everyone who has not had a first or second dose to come forward to receive a vaccination.
The flu and COVID-19 booster vaccines are currently available. Anyone that is eligible for the vaccinations is advised to get both as soon as possible.
You can book an appointment at a vaccination centre or attend one of the walk-in clinics across Birmingham and Solihull.
The COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine can be given on the same day and for some people that are eligible, there may be opportunities to have both vaccinations at the same appointment. You should not delay in getting your vaccinations as soon as possible and help get protected as early as you can, as it may not always be possible to have the vaccinations together.
People who receive both vaccines at the same time may be slightly more likely to experience at least one side effect. These are typically mild, short-lived reactions. The vaccines are extremely safe, with no evidence to suggest that giving both together is more likely to cause serious side effects.
There are very few people who should not have the booster. If you have had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine, you should discuss this with your doctor.
You are encouraged to register with a GP practice in England. However, this is not essential in order to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
Anyone in England can register with a GP, and you do not need proof of identity or of immigration status. For more information on how to register with a GP, please visit www.nhs.uk/register
You cannot currently book through the national booking service without being registered with a GP. However, you can get vaccinated at a walk-in centre without being registered with a GP or having an NHS number.
Your NHS number should be on the letter you received asking you to attend an appointment. Or any letter from the NHS.
If you do not have this information available to you, your records can be found based on other information. This information should be available if you are registered with a GP in England.
Please contact the investigators of the trial who will advise whether you should have the vaccine or not.
Vaccination gives the best protection against flu. Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there is still a chance you might get flu. If you do get flu after vaccination, it is likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having a flu vaccination may help stop you spreading flu to other people who could be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
Are there any known side effects from having the flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines are very safe and most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so. Possible side effects include:
- A slightly raised temperature
- Muscle aches
- For adults a sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with one of the vaccines for people aged 65 years-old and over
It is very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. If it does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
If you have an egg allergy, you may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs. If this is the case, ask your GP, pharmacist or other vaccinator for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.
The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
There are several types of flu vaccine, and none of them contain live viruses, so they cannot give you flu. Talk to a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for more information about these vaccines.