Covid: When will I get the vaccine?

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

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The health secretary is expected to say people in England who have been double-jabbed no longer have to self-isolate, after being in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid.

The announcement is part of the government’s plan to ease remaining restrictions on 19 July.

Who is being offered the vaccine now?

Anyone aged 18 or over can book a jab in England, either online or by calling 119. You can also visit a walk-in clinic without an appointment. Check your local health providers and social media groups for details.

By 19 July, it’s hoped that all adults will have been offered their first dose.

In Scotland, over-18s can register to get the vaccine on the NHS inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013.

Over-18s can also get their jab without an appointment at all the mass vaccination centres in Lothian. Other health boards are offering drop-in vaccination clinics as well. Check local websites and social media for details.

In Wales, over-18s can get the vaccine.

In Northern Ireland, over-18s can book online or call 0300 200 7813

How will I get my second jab?

In England, the gap between first and second jabs will be reduced to eight weeks for those under 40.

The NHS will contact patients directly in England, but you can also rearrange your appointment yourself online, or by calling 119.

As with first jabs, a number of walk-in clinics running across the country offer second doses without an appointment. Again, check local health providers and social media groups for details.

In Scotland anyone whose second appointment is more than eight weeks after their first can rebook it via the NHS Inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013.

In Northern Ireland, the interval between doses has been reduced from 10 weeks to six weeks for appointments scheduled after 14 June 2021.

In Wales, the government says vaccination clinics “are accelerating second doses”, and that people will be contacted by their local health boards in due course.

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What’s the latest on third jabs?

The government’s scientific advisers have issued new guidance to ministers on who should get Covid booster jabs from the autumn, if the data suggests they are needed.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – which advises ministers – says third Covid jabs should be offered to prolong the benefits of the first and second injections, especially in the run-up to winter.

The JCVI says it will publish final plans before September, taking into account:

  • the latest epidemiological situation
  • data from re-vaccination trials, such as the Cov-Boost study
  • how well the vaccines are working over time
  • emerging variants

The government says it’s working closely with the NHS to ensure that if a booster programme happens, it can be deployed rapidly from September.

So who might get a third jab first?

The JCVI says the following people should get a booster vaccine and the annual flu jab as soon as possible from September:

  • immuno-suppressed adults aged 16 and over
  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 70 or over
  • adults aged 16 and over considered clinically extremely vulnerable
  • frontline health and social care workers

The JCVI says the following groups of people should then be offered a third booster with “equal emphasis” on giving the flu vaccine as well:

  • all adults aged 50 and over
  • all adults aged 16-49 years in an influenza or Covid-19 “at-risk group”
  • adult household contacts of immuno-suppressed individuals

Most younger adults will receive their second Covid-19 vaccine dose in late summer, so the benefits of booster vaccination in this group will be considered by the JCVI at a later date.

Boosters should ensure protection built up in the population does not decline through the winter months – and that immunity is maximised to provide additional resilience against variants.

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Is Covid vaccination compulsory?

Vaccinations will be compulsory for staff at care homes in England, and may be extended to include more NHS staff.

Some private companies have said their staff must be vaccinated, including the publisher Bloomsbury, Pimlico Plumbers, and the airline Cathay Pacific.

In addition, a number of countries are only allowing fully-vaccinated travellers to enter.

The government in England has also been piloting a number of large scale events where entry is reserved for spectators who can prove their vaccination status via the NHS Covid Pass.

What vaccine will I get?

The UK is using vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Moderna.

People under 40 are being offered Pfizer or Moderna rather than Oxford-AstraZeneca because of concerns about a possible connection with extremely rare cases of blood clots.

But the UK’s medicines regulator says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for most people.

A single-dose Covid vaccine made by Janssen has also been approved for use in the UK by the medicines regulator. Twenty million doses are due to arrive later this year.

Do vaccines work against the Delta variant?

The Delta variant is believed to be around 60% more infectious than the previous dominant variant in the UK, the Alpha. It’s also thought to be twice as likely to result in hospital admissions.

However, analysis by Public Health England (PHE) shows that two doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine are highly effective at preventing hospital admissions for infected patients.

Vaccine developers are able to update their jabs to target new variants. Oxford researchers have begun to test a new version of the AZ vaccine (targeting the Beta variant first detected in South Africa) in volunteers. Results are expected later this year.

Can you mix and match different vaccines?

At present, official guidance says everyone should get the same vaccine for both doses. But in rare circumstances – if only one vaccine is available, or it’s not known which was given for the first dose – a different vaccine can be used.

Will children be vaccinated?

A decision to vaccinate all 12 to 17-year-olds is unlikely to be recommended by UK vaccine experts imminently, the BBC has been told.

Certain groups of children may still be offered a Covid jab – but not all.

Vaccinating children could help protect other people, but the risk to youngsters from catching Covid remains extremely low.

The Pfizer vaccine has now been approved as safe for 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK.

Moderna says its Covid vaccine is “highly effective” in adolescents aged 12-17, and it will soon ask global regulators to approve its use for this age group. Other manufacturers are also carrying out trials.

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How many vaccine doses are there?

The UK has ordered eight vaccines and expects to receive 517 million doses.

These include another 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine (on top of the original order of 40 million) to be used as part of a booster programme in the autumn.

Vaccines supplied by CureVac will be designed to protect against the most concerning new variants.

Can pregnant women get the vaccine?

The UK’s vaccine committee says pregnant women should be offered a jab.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferable, they say, because data relating to 90,000 pregnant women has not raised any safety concerns.

Data on how the AZ vaccine works in pregnant women may become available in the near future.

What about people with allergies?

A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction – known as anaphylaxis – after the Pfizer vaccine.

You should discuss any serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.

Most people will not be affected in any way, although side-effects with all vaccines are possible.

The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.

They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.

media captionWhy it is normal for some people to experience short-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccines

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