Can you have the Covid booster jab if you have a cold? Guidance on vaccine if you are 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 eligible people to book their Covid-19 booster jabs ahead of winter in an effort to keep coronavirus infections under control.

A least 6.1 million booster doses have now been given in the UK, new figures show, since the vaccination programme rolled out last month.

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But with infection rates still rising, the Health Secretary has made a plea for everyone to ‘play their part’ and get vaccinated to help avoid the need for another lockdown this winter.

Sajid Javid said the government is now working to allow people to book their booster doses early in anticipation of them reaching the six-month mark. The third dose should only be given at least six months after people have received their second jab.

Mr Javid explained: “At the moment the booking system does not allow you to book until you hit six months and one week and I actually think that needs to be changed, and we’re in the process of changing that so I want to allow people to book early.”

The calls for people to get their booster dose comes amid concerns that 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?

Booster jabs will be available to people who are most at risk from Covid-19 who have had a second dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.

People eligible for the booster dose include those who:

  • are ged 50 and over
  • live and work in care homes
  • are frontline health and social care workers
  • are aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19
  • are aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from Covid-19
  • are aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)

People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.

How do I book an appointment?

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. The booking system will only allow you to book your third dose if it has been at least six months since you received your second jab.

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.

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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