The NHS is offering a booster vaccine to people most at risk from COVID-19, including those living in residential care homes, frontline health and social care workers and older adults, as long as they had their second dose of the vaccine more than six months ago.
You will be invited to get your booster vaccination when it is your turn, either through the national booking service or through an invitation to a local GP-run service.
When can I book my COVID-19 booster vaccine?
If you are a frontline health or social care worker you can now book your COVID-19 vaccination if it’s been 5 months since your second dose. However, you will not be able to have the COVID-19 booster vaccination until 6 months (183 days) have elapsed from the time of your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you try to book before 5 months have elapsed, the National Booking Service will not process the booking.
How do I book and what do I need?
The COVID-19 booster vaccine is being offered to frontline health and social care workers and care home residents in line with the government’s COVID Response: autumn and winter plan and advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
- When you are ready to book your appontment visit www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination and choose ‘front line health and social care staff’ as an option to allow this to be recorded on the system.
- You can also book by calling 119 or by visiting your nearest walk-in-centre.
- You will need to take identification to show that you work in health and social care please ensure you take one of the following:
– A copy of your NHS booster letter or
– A workplace photo ID or
– A recent letter from your employer (last 3 months) or
– A recent payslip with shows your employer (last 3 months)
- You will also need to take proof that you’ve been double vaccinated, you can currently use any of the options listed here.
- If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19, please wait at least 28 days before booking your appointment.
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please book a PCR test and confirm a negative result before booking your booster appointment.
Why should I have the COVID-19 booster?
In addition to giving greater immunity, the COVID-19 booster vaccine could offer extra protection against new and existing variants that may have resistance to existing vaccines. The booster programme will be designed to protect as many vulnerable people as possible from becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 over the winter period.
Which COVID-19 vaccine will I get?
The JCVI advises a preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the booster programme, regardless of which vaccine brand someone received for their primary doses. This follows data from the COV-BOOST trial that indicates the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is well tolerated as a third dose and provides a strong booster response. Alternatively, a half dose of the Moderna vaccine may be offered. Where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered, for example due to allergies, the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received it previously.
Is it safe to have the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 booster at the same time?
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. Click here to find out more information about the flu vaccine.
What if I am unable to be vaccinated because of medical reasons?
There are a small number of exemptions for individuals who have a medical reason which means they should not be vaccinated, and in some cases should not test either. Medical exemption status cannot be based on testing alone.
You can apply for proof of evidence that you have a medical reason why you should not be vaccinated and/or tested. If you are eligible for proof of medical exemption, or a carer obtains this on your behalf, you will be able to use the domestic NHS COVID Pass wherever you need to prove your COVID-19 status.
Currently, businesses and event organisers in England that choose to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry can decide whether or not to allow in people who self-declare that they are unable to be vaccinated or tested.
Businesses can continue to accept people who self-declare that they are medically exempt until mid December 2021, from which point, have to use the NHS COVID Pass to gain entry in the same way that people who are fully vaccinated do. Your NHS COVID Pass will not show that you have a medical exemption.
You can find out more information including how to apply for the NHS COVID Pass to prove that you’re unable to be vaccinated and/or get tested here.
Does the booster vaccination affect lateral flow/PCR testing?
All COVID-19 vaccines that are currently approved for use in the UK do not contain the live virus which causes COVID-19. This means that the vaccination boosters will not lead to false results from COVID-19 tests. None of the vaccines will interact with testing.
You can find out more information by clicking here. Extract: “Vaccination will not affect testing”
The booster is currently only advisory; will it be mandated going forward?
Currently this is not mandated.
Can staff choose to self certify for booster and be exempt from having it?
As it is not mandatory, there is no requirement for staff to self-certify they cannot have it, it is the employees decision. However, we would encourage you to talk to any staff member who is choosing to not have it, to understand the rationale behind this.