Frequently asked questions

Spring Booster 2023

Who qualifies for a Spring 2023 COVID-19 Booster vaccination?

Those eligible for a booster this spring include:
• adults aged 75 and over (including those turning 75 by 30 June 2023)
• residents in a care home for older adults
• people aged 5 and over who have a weakened immune system.

Only those who have completed their primary doses (first and second doses) can receive their spring booster.

How will I be invited if I am eligible for a booster?

The NHS is writing to eligible people to remind them that they can get the vaccine. Letters are being staggered according to age so they may arrive at different times. People will receive a text message, email, NHS app message or letter from the NHS when it’s their turn to come forward. Some GPs have a local booking system and may write directly. 

Q: How long are the spring booster clinics open for?

The spring programme is running throughout April, May and June. Please reassure people there are plenty of appointments for everyone eligible. If appointments appear to be full at a preferred location, date and time - additional appointments are made available every Monday of each week.

Q: Am I classed as immunosuppressed and eligible for a booster vaccination?

Your GP or hospital doctor will have informed you if you are classed as immunosuppressed and you may have received a letter from the NHS advising you of this. If you believe you are classed as immunosuppressed and have not received a letter, please check the information regarding eligibility on the NHS website or if necessary get in touch with your GP or hospital doctor for further advice. Please note, final decision whether you are eligible to receive the vaccination will be made during the clinical assessment at your appointment prior to the vaccination being administered. 

Where can I get my Spring COVID-19 Booster vaccination?

We have a range of sites across Dorset: Vaccination Centres, GP practices, Community Pharmacies. Some GP networks have their own local booking system and will contact you direct to arrange your vaccination with them. You can do this or, if you prefer, you can book your appointment on the National Booking Service to have your vaccination at a range of locations. Please use our vaccination web page to find out locations that are offering the COVID-19 booster.

I would have had my booster sooner, why have I had to wait?

The timing of the booster roll-out is decided and authorised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). We deliver our local vaccination programme based on their advice

What type of vaccine is the COVID-19 booster?

The NHS is offering people the next generation variant-busting bivalent vaccine. Bivalent vaccines are helping us to meet the challenge of an ever-evolving virus, protecting people against COVID-19 variants.

Can I choose what vaccine I have?

You cannot usually choose which vaccine you have but you will only be offered a vaccine that is suitable for you.

Will I need the same type of vaccine or booster as my previous ones?

No, all COVID-19 vaccines you’ll be offered are highly effective and provide a strong booster response. When you attend your appointment, the NHS will offer you a safe, effective vaccine.

Is there an alternative vaccine available for people with allergies?

Nuvaxovid is an alternative COVID-19 vaccine. It is only suitable in rare cases where people have had severe allergic reactions to more common types of vaccine (mRNA vaccines, which include the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines), or a component of the vaccine in the past. Nuvaxovid must be given in an acute hospital setting so in order to access it you must first complete a clinical assessment with your GP. If your GP believes you meet the eligibility criteria you will be referred through a local clinical pathway to receive the vaccine.  It is key to note many people who were previously advised to have an AstraZeneca vaccine can safely receive mRNA vaccines. You will need to speak to your GP in the first instance if you feel you are eligible for this.

I haven’t had a letter, but I believe I am eligible (I am living at a different address)

Not everyone will receive a letter invitation – you may be invited by NHS App notification, SMS or email. If you are sent a letter, you may not receive it if you’ve recently moved home. You should register with a GP surgery using your new address. If you are eligible, you can book anyway using the National Booking Service.

I am housebound, how do I receive my booster vaccination?

In the first instance you should contact your GP practice and check that you’re registered with them as being housebound. Patients who are registered as housebound with their GP practice will be contacted directly when their COVID-19 booster is due to arrange a visit from a vaccination team.

I am housebound and my GP surgery is not delivering Covid booster vaccinations. How will I get mine?

Patients who are registered as housebound with their GP practice will be contacted when their COVID booster is due to arrange a visit from a vaccination team. If your GP practice is not delivering vaccinations your details will have been passed to our team at Dorset Healthcare who will contact you to arrange a house visit.

I’ve recently had, or currently have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. Am I still able to receive a vaccine?

You still need to get a booster dose of the vaccine for extra protection, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19. If you have COVID-19, or think you might, please wait until you’ve recovered before getting vaccinated. You should also wait if you have a fever or feel particularly unwell with any illness. If you have recently recovered from COVID-19, there is no need to delay getting vaccinated.

Is pregnancy part of the COVID-19 eligibility criteria for the Spring Booster 2023?

Pregnancy without immunosuppression is not an indication for a booster during the spring 2023 campaign. From the 30 June 2023 there will be no primary dose availability until the autumn booster campaign (and only if in an eligible cohort). Anyone considering pregnancy or already pregnant but still completely unvaccinated should be encouraged to come forward for their first and second doses ASAP.


1st and 2nd doses

Who is eligible for a 1st and 2nd dose?

Anyone aged 5 or over (by 31 August 2022) can still get their primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine until 30 June 2023, if they’ve not had at least two jabs before. Our Dorset clinics providing the primary dose vaccines can be booked via the National Booking Service, through the NHS app or by calling 119.

Can I still come forward for a first or second dose if I have not yet done so?

Yes, you can come forward for your first, second or (if you were immunosuppressed at the time of one of these) a third dose of the vaccine at any time until 30 June 2023. You do not need to be registered with a GP and can find a walk-in option, book an appointment or more information on the national booking website. You can also call 119 free of charge which also offers translators on request.

I’ve had my 1st vaccine. When should I have my 2nd dose?

We offer appointments for 2nd doses from 56 to 84 days (8 to 12 weeks) after the 1st vaccine dose, except for young people aged 5 to 17, who can have appointments from 12 weeks after their 1st dose. If you or your child are aged 5 to 17 with no increased risk to COVID-19 you should wait 12 weeks from your 1st dose to receive the 2nd dose of your vaccine. If you’re in the at increased risk group, you need to have your 2nd dose at 8 weeks.

I’ve gone past the recommended timeframe since my 1st dose. Should I still have my 2nd dose?

Yes, you should still have your 2nd dose. The Green Book (Chapter 14a) advises: If an interval longer than the recommended interval is left between doses, the 2nd dose should still be given (preferably using the same vaccine as was given for the 1st dose if possible). The course does not need to be restarted.


How do I book my vaccine?

The National Booking Service is now live and eligible people can book an appointment at available times at a local clinic near them via the website or through the NHS app. If people prefer not to book online, they can call 119 where a team can assist with booking appointments.

I can no longer attend my vaccination appointment, what should I do?

To cancel or rearrange your appointment if you have booked through the National Booking Service this can be done via the ‘Manage my appointments function’ on the website or by calling 119. If you have booked with your GP practice directly, please call them or follow the information they have provided you with.

Can I arrive at a clinic for my vaccination without a booking?

Currently most sites are accepting bookings only in Dorset and are not accepting walk-ins. If this changes, we will keep our webpages and social media updated. To find out if anywhere local to you is offering a walk-in vaccination service, please visit 'find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination'.

Why do the vaccines keep changing?

The booster vaccine is constantly being updated to protect the public against new strains of the virus.

Do NHS COVID vaccines contain animal products?

One of the COVID-19 vaccines to be used in the spring campaign (VidPrevtyn Beta, manufactured by Sanofi/GSK) contains an oil derived from shark. No other COVID-19 vaccines offered by the NHS contain animal products, including egg. You can find out more about the ingredients of vaccines available in the UK by reading a Guide to the use of human and animal products in vaccines on

Are NHS COVID vaccines suitable for a Muslim diet?

The COVID-19 vaccines offered by the NHS do not contain pork. A newer vaccine (made by Sanofi-GSK) contains a shark-derived oil. Other NHS COVID vaccines contain no animal products, and Muslim scholars have said they are permissible and suitable for a halal diet.

Are NHS COVID vaccines permitted during Ramadan fasting?

As COVID vaccines are intramuscular, some Muslim scholars believe that they do not invalidate fasts. However, we are aware that other Muslim scholars believe fasts may be invalidated by receiving the (Sanofi/GSK) vaccine that contains animal ingredients, due to potential nutritional value of the oil. You may therefore wish to seek further advice from your local Imam or request to receive one of the other vaccines that does not contain shark-derived oil.

I am a migrant and I have moved to England. Can I get a COVID-19 vaccination?

We encourage you to register with a GP practice in England, however this is not essential to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone in England can register with a GP and you do not need proof of identity or of immigration status. This information will not be passed on to the Home Office.

Can I have my vaccination early for a non-clinical reason e.g. holiday, family, work commitments?

If you’re eligible to be vaccinated sooner, we can check when the next available appointments are and try to book one for you now. Otherwise, we are unable to accommodate earlier appointments for travel purposes or personal reasons. Doses must be given at the correct intervals in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation JCVI guidance. If you think you may need to have it early for medical reasons, consult your GP or hospital specialist.

What are the recommended COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5-11 and 12 years old and over?

5 to 11s: Comirnaty 10 vaccine (paediatric Pfizer) 12 and over: Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5. There should be no fractional dosing.

I need support in getting to my vaccination appointment, what can I do?

Patients who do not have access to transport can get help to attend their appointment via community transport services. For more information please visit:

BCP Council area – Transport help with getting to your COVID-19 vaccination

Dorset Council area – Community transport directory

Will I get side effects from my vaccination?

You may experience some mild side effects from COVID-19 vaccines. Side effects are very mild, do not last for long and not everybody will get them. Side effects can include a sore arm, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy, and feeling or being sick. If you do get these, a pain killer such as paracetamol is recommended.

Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe?

Yes. The NHS would not offer any vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has said these vaccines are safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.

As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. 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.

I’ve had a stem cell transplant or CAR-T therapy. Do I need to be revaccinated?

Yes, if you’ve had a stem cell transplant or CAR-T therapy, you should be offered COVID-19 re-vaccination. Following stem cell transplants or CAR-T therapy, any protective antibodies from exposure or vaccination prior to transplantation are likely to be lost and it’s unclear whether the recipient acquires the donor’s immunity. Therefore, any previous COVID-19 vaccination is to be discounted. You should be invited to be re-vaccinated by a local NHS service - if you have not been and are unsure, please contact your GP surgery.

COVID-19 vaccination service