Can you have the Covid booster jab if you have a cold? Rules on vaccine when you’re ill - and how to book

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has urged people to ‘play their part’ and get vaccinated against Covid-19

The government is urging all adults to book their Covid-19 booster jabs when they are eligible in an effort to keep coronavirus infections under control.

The booster programme is now being extended to include all adults aged 18 and over following the detection of the new Omicron Covid variant.

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Concerns over the variant’s possible impact on the effectiveness of vaccines, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has also cut the six month wait between second and third doses down to just three, as part of efforts to boost immunity.

There are also fears that infections could rise as both flu and Covid-19 will be circulating at the same time this winter, along with the common cold.

The UK Health Security Agency has already reported a rise in calls to 111 about colds and flu, a cough, or difficulty breathing above expected levels, while GP services have seen an increase in patients seeking help with lower and upper respiratory tract infections.

But if you are struck down with cold or flu symptoms, what does that mean for your Covid jab? Here’s what you need to know.

Can I get a booster jab if I have a cold?

Government guidance states that if you are not feeling well, you should wait to have your vaccine until you feel better.

However, if you are certain you do not have Covid-19 and are well enough to leave your home, you can still attend your appointment.

If you only have mild cold symptoms, such as a runny nose, you should be fine to get your vaccine, but if you are ill with a high temperature or fever, the NHS advises that you wait until you are better and take a test to check if it is Covid-19.

If you are unsure whether you should attend, speak to your GP before booking an appointment.

You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a coronavirus test or unsure if you are fit and well.

It is possible to rearrange your appointment via the NHS online booking system.

Who can get a booster vaccine?

All adults over the age of 18 will be offered a booster dose, under new JCVI guidance.

The jabs will be rolled out in order of descending age groups to top up antibody levels, with priority to be given to older adults and those in an at-risk group.

Those aged 40 and over are currently already eligible to get a booster vaccine.

Boosters will also be offered to people aged 16 years old and over with a severely weakened immune system.

How do I book an appointment?

Booster doses will be rolled out in order of descending age groups and should be given no sooner than three months after the second jab.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the NHS will start inviting people to book an appointment “at the appropriate time”, with guidance due to be set out “in the next few days”.

If you have had a positive Covid-19 test, you will need to wait four weeks before booking your booster from the date you had the test.

In England, people should receive a letter or a text inviting them to book their booster vaccine dose when they are eligible. Once you have been invited to book, you can do so online via the NHS national booking system.

Booster jabs are also available at walk-in vaccinations centres across England without the need for appointment. NHS England has advised people to use its online walk-in finder to check where their nearest vaccination site is.

The health service said almost every person who is registered with a GP practice lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination site.

The walk-in finder website will reveal whether a vaccination centre is offering booster doses, vaccines for 12 to 15 year-olds, or anyone aged 16 and over.

To find your nearest walk-in centre offering booster doses, enter your details on the NHS website.

If you are in Scotland, the NHS inform website features a handy tool which explains how you will be invited for your booster vaccination.

In Wales, you will be contacted by your health board when it is your turn to book your jab. You should not contact your GP to ask about appointments.

In Northern Ireland, the booster programme has already started with residents and staff in care homes being offered a dose. GPs will shortly be starting to invite their older patients in first to receive their booster. You should wait until you are contacted to book an appointment.

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