Frequently asked questions

Spring 2024 vaccine

‚ÄčWho qualifies for a spring COVID-19 vaccination?

JCVI advises the following people can get a free COVID-19 vaccine this spring:
• Adults aged 75 years and over (this includes those who turn 75 years old by 30 June 2024).vii
• Residents in care homes for older adults (people who are admitted to an older adult care home or become immunosuppressed by 30 June are also eligible).
• Individuals aged 6 months and over who are immunosuppressed, this includes:

- Individuals with primary or acquired immunodeficiency states at the time of vaccination due to certain conditions

- Individuals on immunosuppressive or immunomodulating therapy at the time of vaccination

- Individuals with chronic immune-mediated inflammatory disease who were receiving or had received immunosuppressive therapy prior to vaccination

- Individuals who had received high dose steroids for any reason in the month before vaccination.

For the full criteria please refer to the Green Book.

When will the vaccine be available?

The spring COVID-19 vaccine will be available from Monday 22 April for anyone eligible, those in care homes and eligible patients who receive health care at home may receive their vaccine from the 15 April.

Will I receive an invitation to get my vaccine?

You may be invited by the NHS via letter, the NHS app or by your GP to get your COVID-19 vaccination if you are eligible. You do not have to wait for an invitation if you are eligible.

How can I book my vaccine?

If you are eligible for a spring vaccination you can book via the National Booking System from 15 April. 

How long are the spring vaccinations clinics open for?

The spring programme is running until the end of June. There are plenty of appointments for everyone eligible. 

Are household contacts of eligible people eligible for the vaccine as well?

As with the Spring COVID-19 vaccine campaign in both 2022 and 2023, household contacts are not eligible. Infection with the Omicron variant is far less likely to lead to serious complications than earlier strains, and the current vaccines offer modest, short-term protection against mild disease. This means that the vaccines cannot help much to reduce the spread of infection.

For the spring 2024 vaccine, JCVI is prioritising groups most vulnerable to serious outcomes from COVID-19 including those aged 75 or over, living in care homes, and those who are immunosuppressed. These individuals are at highest risk of severe COVID-19, and as time passes, their protection derived from vaccination in autumn 2023 will wane substantially before autumn 2024.

Can I get my primary course of vaccines during this campaign?

If you are eligible for a spring vaccination but have not had a COVID-19 vaccine before, or have missed a previous seasonal dose, you should still take up the offer of a spring COVID-19 vaccination to protect yourself. Most people do not need extra doses to make up for those you have missed. If you have a severely weakened immune system, your doctor may advise an extra dose three months after you have the spring vaccine. 

General

GETTING YOUR VACCINE

How do I book my vaccine?

The National Booking Service will shortly be live for eligible people to book an appointment 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.

What should I bring with me?

It is helpful to bring with you:

  • your booking confirmation if you have a booked appointment - this may be a letter, an email or a note you have made of the booking reference
  • your NHS number
  • a note of any regular medication you take
  • proof of eligibility and photo ID.

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. If this changes, we will keep our webpages and social media updated. 

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.

I need transport 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

MORE ABOUT THE VACCINE

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. 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. 

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.

What does ‘immunosuppressed’ mean?

People who are ‘immunosuppressed’ are at the greatest risk from COVID-19 as their immune systems are not working normally. This includes people on chemotherapy, strong immunosuppressant medications, high doses of steroids or those with a medical condition affecting their immune system. If you are in one of these groups, it’s essential to get your COVID-19 vaccine.

If you aren’t sure if you which group you are in, come in and have a confidential discussion with your vaccinator. 

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

The decision is based on the independent advice of clinical experts in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) who review the risk and all latest clinical evidence and data.

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 spring 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 community 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.

GETTING YOUR VACCINES

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

You may be invited to get your spring vaccines by the NHS nationally or your GP practice through a letter, text or email. Don’t worry if you do not receive this. If you are eligible, you do not have to wait for this before booking an appointment. If you receive an invite from the NHS and have already been vaccinated do not worry, sometimes there is a delay in the information flowing through and you do not need to do anything.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect current medication

Most medications do not interact with the COVID-19 vaccine. Let your vaccinator know if you are taking any medications that suppress your immune system, or are on steroids or antibiotics, as this will help us decide the best time for you to get your vaccine.

Why might my child need the seasonal COVID-19 vaccine?

The seasonal COVID-19 vaccine is offered to protect those most at risk of serious illness from the virus. Infants and children aged 6 months and over who are immunosuppressed (as defined in tables 3 or 4 in the COVID-19 chapter of the Green Book) are elgible for a vaccine to help them to fight the virus quicker if they contract it. 

I’ve only just had my first or second COVID-19 vaccine, can I have the spring vaccine?

The JCVI advices a minimum of 3 months between doses or since you had your last COVID-19 vaccine. 

I haven’t yet had the COVID-19 vaccination, can I still get my first jabs?

If you are eligible for a spring vaccination but have not had a COVID-19 vaccine before, or have missed a previous seasonal dose, you should still take up the offer of a spring COVID-19 vaccination to protect yourself. Most people do not need extra doses to make up for those you have missed. If you have a severely weakened immune system, your doctor may advise an extra dose three months after you have the spring vaccine. Severely immunosuppressed children under five years of age may be considered for additional doses at a later time point. 

Why is my recent COVID vaccination not showing on my NHS COVID pass?

The NHS COVID pass closed on 4 December 2023, as vaccination status no longer needs to be demonstrated domestically or for international travel and the pass is no longer needed. Most patients can see this information in their GP health record on the NHS App within the 'Check Your Covid-19 Vaccine Record' section within the 'Your Health' icon. The NHS App continues to provide a simple and secure way for people to access a range of NHS services. Please be aware that travel restrictions and requirements can change, you should stay up to date with the latest information from the relevant authorities when planning your international travel. More information relating to entry requirements can be obtained from the Foreign Office Travel Advice website - Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

 

ABOUT THE VACCINE

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.

Please accept the vaccination that is offered to you as soon as you are able to – you will be offered the right vaccine for you at the right time.

Why do I keep needing to have another 'dose' 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 needing NHS treatment. 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 from the virus which is still circulating in our communities.

Why does the eligibility criteria differ from the autumn vaccination campaign?
The primary aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to be the prevention of severe disease (hospitalisation and mortality) arising from COVID-19. Eligibility for the spring 2024 COVID-19 vaccination campaign is the same as it was for the spring 2022 and spring 2023 campaigns. Infection with the Omicron variant is far less serious than earlier strains, including for pregnant women. So far, only the autumn vaccine campaigns have covered a larger group of people (including pregnant women) as over winter, the threat of COVID-19 is at its greatest.
Older persons (75+), residents in care homes for older adults, and those who are immunosuppressed continue to be at highest risk of severe COVID-19. To protect the most vulnerable in the population against becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19, JCVI’s view is that the provision of a spring vaccination dose for these people is a proportionate response this year.

Are there any side effects from the vaccines?

COVID-19 vaccines have a good safety record, severe side effects are uncommon, most are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around a day or two following the vaccination
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • general aches, or mild flu like symptoms.

Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:

  • rest
  • continue to move your arm regularly
  • take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it.

Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If you experience a high temperature, if your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111.

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 COVID-19?

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

Do I need to receive the same type of vaccine as my previous ones?

No, all COVID-19 vaccines authorised for use by the NHS are effective and provide a strong booster response. When you attend your appointment, the NHS will offer you a safe, effective vaccine.

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 top up your protection if you are eligible for a spring vaccine, 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.

 

COVID-19 vaccination service