Adults across the UK are being urged to book their Covid-19 booster vaccine to ensure they have maximum protection against the virus this winter.
Boosters are now being offered to all over 18s as part of measures to tackle the new Omicron variant.
The recently detected coronavirus strain, first identified in South Africa, is feared to be more transmissible and could potentially reduce the reduce the protection offered by vaccines.
As such, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended extending the booster rollout to all adults aged between 18 and 39. Those aged 40 and over are currently already eligible to get a booster vaccine.
If you have still yet to receive your booster dose, here’s what you need to know about the rollout and the side effects to expect.
Who can get a booster vaccine?
Booster jabs are being offered to everyone aged 18 and over, and to people aged 16 and over with a severely weakened immune systems.
People will be invited to get the top-up dose in order of descending age groups, with priority to be given to older adults and those in an at-risk group.
The JCVI has also reduced the gap between doses from six months down to three, meaning people can get their third dose just three months after their second jab.
When can I book an appointment?
You should receive a letter or a text inviting you to book your booster vaccine when you are eligible.
The NHS booking service for boosters is yet to be updated, but NHS England has said it should allow people to book three months after their second dose by 13 December.
You should wait to be contacted by the NHS before booking your booster. You may be asked to book this online or at a local NHS service, such as your GP surgery.
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.
Which vaccine will I get?
Those eligible for the booster will be offered either a full dose of the Pfizer vaccine, or a half dose of the Moderna vaccine.
These vaccines will be used regardless of which jab individuals had for their first two doses as these have both been shown to provide a strong booster response.
In cases when neither of these vaccines can be offered, due to an allergy for example, the JCVI advises that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be used for those who received this jab for their first and second dose.
Will I get any side effects?
Much like with the first and second vaccine doses, it is normal to experience some side effects after your vaccine and symptoms can vary from person to person.
The NHS advises that in most cases, side effects will be mild and should only last for a few days.
The most commonly reported symptoms include:
- a sore arm at the site of the injection
- muscle aches
- joint pain
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, to help ease the side effects. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, you should call 111 for advice.
If you have a high temperature that lasts longer than two days, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you may have Covid-19. In this case, you should stay at home and take a coronavirus test.
You cannot catch Covid-19 from the vaccine, but it is possible that you may have caught it just before or after your vaccination.
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.