COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 vaccination is an important part of protecting yourself if you're at increased risk from severe COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination is effective and the safest way to protect yourself from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines for people with a severely weakened immune system

COVID-19 vaccines are normally given seasonally, but some people with a severely weakened immune system may need additional protection at other times. This may be because of a health condition or medical treatment.

Your specialist or GP will assess if you or your child (aged 6 months or over) need a COVID-19 vaccine. They should let you know when to get vaccinated and help you find a local appointment. Speak to your specialist or GP practice for advice.

Read guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk from COVID-19 on GOV.UK.

Seasonal COVID-19 vaccines

Some people at increased risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 may be able to get a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine later in 2024.

The NHS will contact you if your NHS record suggests you may be eligible for a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine.

When available, there will be different ways to get a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine:

  • booking online
  • going to a walk in COVID-19 vaccination site
  • through a local NHS service, such as a GP surgery
  • through your care home

Get the latest NHS advice about COVID-19, including its symptoms. looking after yourself at home, how to avoid catching and spreading it, treatments, vaccinations and long term effects from the NHS website.

You will still be able to get a free flu vaccine, if you are eligible until 31 March 2024, but you are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as you can. For more information about flu vaccines visit the NHS website.

Further information

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

To find out more about COVID-19 vaccination visit the NHS website.

Can I still get my seasonal vaccinations?

You can no longer book a COVID-19 vaccination online, via the NHS App or by calling 119. The COVID-19 seasonal vaccine programme ended on 31 January 2024.

COVID-19 vaccines are normally given seasonally, but some people with a severely weakened immune system may need additional protection at other times. This may be because of a health condition or medical treatment.

Your specialist or GP will assess if you or your child (aged 6 months or over) need a COVID-19 vaccine. They should let you know when to get vaccinated and help you find a local appointment. Speak to your specialist or GP for advice.

You will still be able to get your flu vaccine until 31 March, but you are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as you can.

How well do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

If you're at increased risk of severe COVID-19, getting a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others. Research has shown the vaccine helps:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19
  • protect against different strains (variants) of COVID-19

Seasonal vaccines are offered because protection fades over time.

A vaccine helps give you good protection from becoming seriously ill or needing to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19.

There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it's important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.

For more information visit the NHS website

Why should I get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines?

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines have good safety records and are an effective way to protect yourself from the flu and COVID-19 viruses.

While flu and COVID-19 can be unpleasant, for some it can be very dangerous and even life threatening, particularly people with certain health conditions, older people and pregnant women. For them, it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia or can make existing conditions worse.  Every winter, thousands die from flu and people can still get very ill or die from COVID-19. 

Children aged under 5 have one of the highest hospitalisation rates for flu. Last year over 6,000 under 5s in England were hospitalised by flu, and many more needed care in accident and emergency. The vaccine reduces a child’s chance of needing hospital care for flu by around two-thirds. 

Having your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations will reduce your risk of serious illness and help you recover more quickly if you catch the viruses. Getting the vaccines while pregnant helps to protect you and your baby from complications if you catch these viruses. The vaccines have kept tens of thousands of people out of hospital and helped to save countless lives and they give you better protection than any immunity gained from previous infections. They also help protect your family and other people in your community, by helping to stop diseases spreading.

In winter, flu and COVID-19 spread more easily as we spend more time indoors. Getting these vaccines ahead of winter are two of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe and ‘get winter strong’. The new BA.2.86 COVID-19 variant presents a greater risk now, which is why we are encouraging all eligible people to get their vaccines as soon as they can.

Could I still get flu and COVID-19 after having the vaccines?

Like all medicines, no vaccine is 100% guarantee of not catching the virus – some people may still get flu or COVID-19 despite getting vaccinated but this should be less severe with milder symptoms. It may take a few days for your body to build up protection from the vaccines. Having your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations will reduce your risk of serious illness and may help you recover more quickly if you catch the viruses.

Why do I keep needing to have further doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given to top up the protection in those at higher risk from severe COVID-19 illness to help prevent people being hospitalised or dying from COVID-19 during colder months. During the pandemic, COVID-19 disproportionately affected those in older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, and those with certain underlying health conditions, particularly those who are severely immunosuppressed which is why we vaccinate them regularly to ‘top up’ their protection.

How is it decided who is eligible to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines for free on the NHS each year?

The flu and COVID-19 vaccine programmes aim to reduce the number of people that get seriously ill and reduce the spread of the viruses. The government decide which groups will be eligible for free vaccines on the NHS. Their decision is based on the independent advice of clinical experts in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) who review the latest clinical evidence and data.

Which COVID-19 vaccine will I be offered?

The NHS is offering different COVID-19 vaccines in line with the advice of scientists on JCVI. All COVID-19 vaccines have been tested in line with rigorous standards and found to give good protection against the virus.

Are the vaccines safe?

The flu and COVID-19 vaccines have a good safety record, and their side effects are generally mild and do not last for more than a few days. Your safety will always come first and there are rigorous safety standards that have to be met through the approval process. 

As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the official UK regulator are globally recognised for requiring the highest standards of safety, quality and effectiveness for medicines and vaccines. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process. Each of the vaccines are tested on tens of thousands of people across the world. They are tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, and of all age groups.

Like any other vaccine or medicine, the flu and COVID-19 vaccines are being continuously monitored for safety – the effected benefits of the vaccines far outweigh risk in the majority of patients. You and your healthcare professional can report any suspected side effects through the tried and trusted Yellow Card Scheme.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from diseases. It's usually much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once your immune system knows how to fight a disease, it can often protect you..

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines have a good safety record. All adult flu and COVID-19 vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.

Are there any side effects from the vaccines?

Millions of adults and children around the world have had a COVID-19 vaccine and it gives you the best protection against COVID-19.

Like all medicines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them.

The safety of the vaccines has been extensively reviewed in both adults and children by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The MHRA are continuously monitoring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and reports of serious side effects are very rare.

Find out more about the MHRA on GOV.UK

Common side effects of COVID-19 vaccination

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

  • a sore arm from the injection
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • mild flu-like symptoms
  • feeling or being sick

You or your child should rest. You can also take pain relief such as paracetamol to help you feel better.

You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine.

CONTACT 111 IF:

You or your child have had a COVID-19 vaccine and:

  • have symptoms that are getting worse
  • you're worried about your or your child's symptoms

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Report a side effect

Report a vaccine side effect on the COVID-19 Yellow Card website

Very rare side effects of COVID-19 vaccination

Allergic reactions

Most people with allergies (including food or penicillin allergies) can be vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you've ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis), tell healthcare staff before you're vaccinated. They may ask what you're allergic to.

If you've had a mild allergic reaction before, such as a rash, wheezing or hives, you are likely to get a common COVID-19 vaccine. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

If you are at risk of a serious allergic reaction, they may refer you to a specialist clinic for your vaccination, or to have an alternative COVID-19 vaccine.

Heart inflammation (myocarditis)

There have been rare cases of inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) reported after COVID-19 vaccination. Most people who had this recovered following rest and simple treatments.

Find out more about myocarditis and COVID-19 vaccines on the British Heart Foundation website

CALL 999 OR GO TO A&E IF: 

You or your child have any of these symptoms within a few days of being vaccinated:

  • chest pain or feeling of tightness in the chest
  • shortness of breath
  • a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart (palpitations)

Can I have the vaccine if I feel unwell?

If you are unwell, wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine. You should not attend an appointment if you have a fever or think you might be infectious to others.

Should I get the vaccines if I think I have already had flu or COVID-19?

If you think you’ve already had flu or COVID-19, once you’ve recovered you should still get the vaccines as they will still help protect you.

Is there anyone that shouldn’t get the vaccines?

Almost everybody can have the vaccines, but you should not be vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergy (eg. anaphylaxis) to any of the flu or COVID-19 vaccines, or any of their ingredients – you should discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.

If you are allergic to eggs you may not be able to have certain types of flu vaccine – check with your immuniser. If you have a fever, the vaccination may be delayed until you are better.

What type of flu vaccine will I be given?

For adults, there are several types of flu vaccine depending upon your age.

  • adults are offered an injectable vaccine. There are different types, including low-egg and egg-free ones
  • adults aged 65 years and over – the most common flu vaccine contains an extra ingredient to help your immune system make a stronger response to the vaccine

Most children over the age of 2 are offered a nasal spray vaccine – this is given as a quick and painless spray up the nose. Those aged under 2 and a small number of children due to pre-existing medical conditions or treatments cannot have the nasal spray and are offered protection through an injected vaccine instead.

What type of COVID-19 vaccine will I be given?

There are several different COVID-19 vaccines in use in the UK. They have all met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. Most people can have any of the COVID-19 vaccines and will be offered a vaccine that gives protection from more than one type of COVID-19. You cannot choose which vaccine you have.

Some people are only offered certain vaccines, for example:

  • if you're pregnant
  • if you're under 18 years old
  • if you're 75 years old or over
  • in very rare cases if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to one of the common vaccines you may be referred to a specialist clinic for an alternative COVID-19 vaccine.

Children under 12 years old will be given smaller doses than older children and adults.

Find out more about pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and COVID-19 vaccination

How well do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

If you're at increased risk of severe COVID-19, getting a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others. The vaccine helps to:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19
  • protect against different strains (variants) of COVID-19

Seasonal vaccines are offered because viruses change, and protection fades over time.

A vaccine helps give you good protection from becoming seriously ill or needing to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19.

Read more about vaccine effectiveness statistics on the Office of National Statistics website

 

 

Post Covid Assessment Service

The Post Covid Assessment Service supports people who have had a Covid infection, whether they have been diagnosed or not, and are experiencing an ongoing health issues as a result of their illness.

The service is led by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) and you can access their information and referral information on their Post Covid Assessment website page.

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