Which COVID-19 vaccine do I need?

The three approved vaccines - Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca -are safe and have been through rigorous checks, as well as extensive trials.

Updated 27 April 2022

The vaccines are free of charge and only available through the NHS. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police online or by calling 101. The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text asking you to confirm you want the vaccine. 

The vaccines do not contain any animal product or egg.

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility summary

If you have had Covid-19, you need to wait for the following time before having a vaccination:

  • 5-17s in highest risk groups – minimum of 4 weeks from when symptoms started/testing positive
  • Under 18s – minimum of 12 weeks from when symptoms started/testing positive
  • 18 and over – minimum of 4 weeks from when symptoms started/testing positive

Spring boosters

People aged 75 and over, care home residents and people with weakened immune systems are now being offered their Spring Booster. This follows the recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that an extra dose should be offered to these groups to make sure those at greatest risk continue to have high levels of protection against COVID-19.

If you are eligible for an extra booster, the NHS will contact you when it is your turn with details of how to make an appointment. People are being prioritised according to when their had their previous booster and by clinical need so please wait to hear and do not contact your GP practice or other NHS services. Everyone who is eligible will be contacted between 21 March and early Summer, depending on when they had their last booster.

Once invited, people will be able to book an appointment at a convenient vaccination centre. Some people may also be contacted by their GP practice and offered an appointment but not all GP services are offering this service so please only contact your GP about a spring booster if you receive an invitation.

If you haven’t had your previous booster, you can visit www.nhs.uk/covid-booster or call 119 to book an appointment or see here for details of local walk-in clinics.

Frequently Asked Questions

A guide to the spring booster for those aged 75 years and older residents in care homes

5-11-year-olds

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses
  • Pfizer (child dose of 10 micrograms)

When

  • From 4 April 2022

Where

  • Book using National Booking Service
  • Selected walk-in clinics

5-11-year-olds who are clinically at risk or living with someone who is immunosuppressed

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses
  • Pfizer (child dose of 10 micrograms)

When

  • From 31 January 2022.  At least 8 weeks between doses. Please wait to be contacted.

Where

  • Selected GP practices (by invitation)
  • Clinics at selected vaccination centres (need letter from GP or consultant)

Guide for parents/guardians of children aged 5-11 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

12-15 year olds

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses
  • Pfizer

When

  • At least 12 weeks between doses

Where

  • Clinics in schools
  • Invite from GP
  • Book using National Booking Service
  • Selected walk-in clinics

12-15 year olds who are clinically at risk or living with someone who is immunosuppressed

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses + booster
  • Pfizer

When

  • At least 12 weeks between doses

Where

  • Invite from local GP vaccination service
  • Selected walk-in clinics (need a letter from GP or consultant)

16-17 year olds

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses + booster
  • Pfizer

When

  • At least 12 weeks between doses

Where

  • Invite from GP
  • Book using National Booking Service
  • Selected walk-in clinics

18-39 year olds

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses + booster
  • Pfizer or Moderna

When

  • At least 8 weeks between 1st and 2nd doses and 12 weeks between 2nd dose and booster

Where

  • Invite from GP
  • Book using National Booking Service
  • Selected walk-in clinics

40 year olds and over

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses + booster
  • Doses 1 & 2 – AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna
  • Booster – Pfizer or Moderna

When

  • At least 8 weeks between 1st and 2nd doses and 12 weeks between 2nd dose and booster

Where

  • Invite from GP
  • Book using National Booking Service
  • Walk-in clinics

Pregnant women

Vaccine and dose

  • Two doses + booster
  • Pfizer or Moderna

When

  • At least 8 weeks between 1st and 2nd doses and 12 weeks between 2nd dose and booster

Where

  • Invite from GP
  • Book using National Booking Service
  • Walk-in clinics

Immunosuppressed aged 12 and over

Vaccine and dose

  • Three doses + booster
  • 12-17 year olds – Pfizer
  • 18-39 year olds – Pfizer or Moderna
  • 40 year olds and over – AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna

When

  • At least 8 weeks between doses one, two and three
  • 12 weeks between dose three and booster
  • Unless otherwise advised by a specialist

Where

  • Invite from GP or consultant
  • Walk-in clinics (need a letter from GP or consultant)

The Vaccine Summary PDF can also be downloaded.

COVID-19 vaccine side effects

Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.

If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.

If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.

Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine guidance

New guidance has been issued for the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination.

This follows further reviews by the independent regulator, the MHRA, and the Commission for Human Medicines, of a very small number of people in the UK who have developed a rare blood-clotting condition since having the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The MHRA and Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations have emphasised that the risk of this condition is extremely small and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.  They have recommended that:

  • Everyone who has had the AstraZeneca vaccine should still have a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, irrespective of age, unless they suffered any serious side effects after their first vaccination.
  • People aged 30 and over or who have a health condition that puts them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease should still be offered the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. The benefits in protecting them against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition.
  • People aged 18-29 who do not have a health condition that puts them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease will be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine where available. (This has been recommended as a precaution as people under 30 are at less risk from Covid-19 and not because they are considered to be at particular risk of developing the rare blood clot.)
  • People under 30 can still choose to have the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine if this will mean they can be protected more quickly and they have been made aware of the guidance.

Please see the leaflet below that has been produced by Public Health England and the NHS to answer any questions you may have:

Allergic reactions

Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction.

You should not have the COVID-19 vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to:

  • a previous dose of the same vaccine
  • any of the ingredients in the vaccine

Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

Reports of extremely rare blood clots

The MHRA is carrying out a detailed review of reports of an extremely rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The problem can also happen in people who have not been vaccinated and it’s not yet clear why it affects some people.

The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from coronavirus. For people aged 30 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any risk of clotting problems.

For people under 30 without other health conditions, it’s currently advised that it’s preferable to have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:

  • a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
  • a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
  • a headache that’s unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
  • a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain

For further information, please visit www.nhs.uk/CovidVaccine

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