Like all vaccines, the protection offered by the COVID vaccinations will decrease over time. Autumn boosters are an extra dose of the vaccine that is given to ‘boost’ protection against the virus and ensure those at greatest risk from COVID-19 are protected. Here’s West Yorkshire NHS’s info guide to this Autumn’s booster.
Although the COVID-19 vaccines have made it possible to return to the lives we knew before the pandemic began, the virus is still with us and is still making people very ill. Winter is the season when the threat from COVID-19 is greatest for individuals and communities as viruses spread much more easily, so it is important that everyone eligible tops up their protection with an autumn booster.
Who is eligible
• People who live and work in care homes for older adults
• People aged 50 and over.
• Frontline health and social care workers.
• People aged 5-49 who have a weakened immune system (immunosuppressed)
• People aged 5-49 with a health condition that puts them at increased risk from COVID
• People aged 5-49 who live with someone who is immunosuppressed
• Pregnant women
• People aged 16-49 who are carers
• There needs to be a gap of at least three months between the booster and someone’s last vaccination to make sure it works as well as possible.
• If someone has had COVID-19, they need to leave the following gap between the start of their symptoms and having any vaccination:
– 4 weeks for adults aged 18 or over
– 12 weeks for children aged 5 to 17 years
– 4 weeks for children aged 12 to 17 years old who are at high risk from COVID-19
How to get a booster
• As before, the NHS is prioritising people so that those at greatest risk are offered the booster first.
• People will receive an invitation when it is their turn, either from the NHS National Booking Service or from their GP, which will tell them how to make an appointment.
• When eligible, people can also book an appointment using the National Booking Service, either online at http://www.nhs.uk/covid-booster or by calling 119.
• Housebound patients will be contacted by their GP practice to arrange their vaccination when it is their turn.
• The booster vaccinations are being given at vaccination centres in local communities across West Yorkshire.
• There are 157 centres in total, including pharmacies and centres run by GPs.
• There will also be a range of pop-up clinics offered in local communities as the rollout progresses.
• Autumn boosters will use a new version of the COVID vaccines known as ‘bivalent vaccines’. These are vaccines that target two different variants of COVID-19, the original strain and the Omicron variant.
• The bivalent vaccines approved for use in the UK are the Moderna bivalent vaccine and the Pfizer-BionTech bivalent vaccine.
• For a very small number of people with severe allergies a different vaccine may be advised by their doctor.
COVID and flu vaccinations
• It is safe to have the COVID and flu vaccinations at the same time.
• However, it may not always be possible to get them together due to the different supply processes so people are recommended to have each vaccination as soon as it is offered rather than waiting to try to get them at the same time.
• As with previous doses, some people may experience side effects after having thevaccine but these are usually mild and only last a short time.
• The common side effects are the same for all the COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK and include pain or tenderness at the injection site, fatigue, headache and general aches or mild flu-like symptoms.
• Resting and taking paracetamol will help and symptoms normally last for less than a week. If symptoms get worse, people should call NHS 111 for advice.
• All vaccines used in the UK must be authorised by our independent medicines’ regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
• Each COVID-19 vaccine is assessed by teams of scientists and clinicians and tested on tens of thousands of people across the world. It is only authorised once it has met robust standards of effectiveness, safety and quality set by MHRA.
• There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.