Everyone aged 5 and over can get two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.
People aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15 who have a condition that means they're at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 or live with someone who has a weakened immune system, can also get a booster dose.
People aged 12 and over who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their first two doses, will be offered a third primary dose and a booster.
People aged 75 and over, people who live in care homes for older people, and people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system, have been offered a spring 2022 booster.
A further booster is also planned for autumn 2022 people aged 16 to 64 years in a clinical risk group (the JCVI will announce its final plans for the autumn programme, including further detail on the definitions of clinical risk groups, in due course).
The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in the UK are:
- Oxford/AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria®)
- Pfizer /BioNTech (Comirnaty®)
- Moderna (Spikevax®)
- Janssen (not currently available)
- Novavax (not currently available)
- Valneva (not currently available)
Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others. All of these vaccines give very high protection against COVID-19. They have been through a rigorous approval process to make sure they are safe and effective. Research has shown the vaccines help to reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 and protect against COVID-19 variants.
You cannot usually choose which vaccine you have. If you book online, you'll only be offered appointments for vaccines that are suitable for you.
If you're under 40 you'll usually be offered appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines and if you're under 18, you'll only be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
You should have the same vaccine for both your first and second doses, unless you had serious side effects (such as a serious allergic reaction) after your first dose.
Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine.
Most young people aged 5 to 17 should have their second dose from 12 weeks after their first dose. People aged 5 to 17 who have a condition that means they're at high risk from COVID-19 or they live with someone who has a weakened immune system can get a second dose from eight weeks after they had their first dose. If you're aged 18 or over, you should have your second dose from 8 weeks after your first dose.
- Everyone aged 5 and over can book online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy, go to a COVID-19 vaccination walk-in site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment or wait to be contacted by a local NHS service like your GP surgery to arrange an appointment.
- Children aged 5 to 11 may be invited to receive the vaccine in different ways depending on where they live. You can find out how children are being invited for vaccination appointments in your local area online or by phoning the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013. Children aged 12 to 15 can attend a drop-in clinic and everyone aged 16 and over can attend a drop-in clinic, phone the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 or book an appointment online.
- Check your health board’s vaccination web pages for information about clinics and appointments.
- Anyone aged over 5 who lives in Northern Ireland can book a vaccination online or by calling 0300 200 7813. Some walk-in appointments may also be available but you should check your Trust’s vaccination web pages first.
If you are aged 12 years or over and had a severely weakened immune system around the time you had your first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you will be offered a third primary dose. This is because the first two doses may not have given you as much protection as they can for people who do not have a severely weakened immune system. A third primary dose may help give you better protection. It helps give you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Your specialist can advise whether this applies to you. By having the third dose you may reduce your chance of catching the COVID-19 infection. And, if you do catch COVID-19, the symptoms may be less severe and the illness shorter, than if you had not had the third vaccination.
The third primary dose should be given at least eight weeks after your second dose, but the timing will depend on any treatment you may be having. Your specialist can advise on the best time to have your third primary dose. If you have a weakened immune system and have been given an earlier second or third primary dose appointment for clinical reasons, you should attend your appointments as planned. If possible, you should have your third dose at least two weeks after your immune system recovers. If this isn’t possible, you should have your third dose during a period when your immune system is least weakened (for example, in between cycles of treatment or during a treatment holiday). If your immune system is always severely weakened, you should still have a third dose at any time from eight weeks after your second dose.
Those eligible for a third dose include:
- People with Hodgkin lymphoma or high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma who were on treatment or within 12 months of achieving cure at the time they had their initial COVID-19 vaccinations.
- People with low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who were under follow-up at the time they had their initial COVID-19 vaccinations. This might include some people on active monitoring (watch and wait), if their immune systems are severely weakened. Specialists will consider the individual circumstances to decide whether or not people on active monitoring are likely to need a third dose.
- People who had a self (autologous) or donor (allogeneic) stem cell transplant in the two years before they had their initial COVID-19 vaccinations (or more than two years for people who are still immunosuppressed or have graft-versus-host disease). Note that people who had a stem cell transplant or CAR T-cell therapy after their initial COVID-19 vaccinations should be completely revaccinated three to six months after treatment.
- People who were on immunosuppressive chemotherapy or radiotherapy at the time of their initial COVID-19 vaccinations or within the previous 6 months.
- People who had high-dose steroids in the month before their initial COVID-19 vaccinations.
This list does not include all eligible people – we have focused on those that are relevant to people affected by lymphoma. The full JCVI guidance includes a more detailed list of people who are eligible.
- In England, people aged 12 or over can book a third primary dose online or attend a walk-in vaccination site. You'll need to bring with you either:
- a letter from your GP or hospital specialist inviting you for an additional primary dose or booster
- a hospital letter that describes the condition or treatment that caused you to have a severely weakened immune system at the time of your 1st or 2nd dose
- a prescription or a medicine box with your name and the date showing when the medicine was prescribed – this must show that you had a severely weakened immune system at the time of your 1st or 2nd dose
- The government has produced a COVID-19 vaccination guide for people with a weakened immune system.
- Eligible people in Scotland should be contacted by the NHS to invite them for a third primary dose. Further information about third doses in Scotland is available from NHS inform.
- The NHS will contact you to let you know when and where to have the third vaccine. Public Health Wales have produced a COVID-19 vaccination guide for people with a severely weakened immune system.
- In Northern Ireland, people aged 12 or over who have a letter from their GP or hospital consultant confirming that they are eligible can book a third dose online. Further information on third doses in Northern Ireland is available from the Public Health Agency.
If you think you are eligible for a third primary dose but you haven’t been contacted, speak to your GP or specialist for advice.
A booster vaccine is available for everyone aged 16 and over who have had a second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago. Children aged 12 to 15 who are either at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 or live with someone who is, are also eligible for this booster to help keep their protection against COVID-19 as high as possible.
- You can book online if it's been two months (61 days) since you had your second dose, or find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site. You can also wait to be contacted by a local NHS service such as your GP surgery and book your appointments with them. If you cannot book an appointment online, you can call 119 free of charge.
- If you are aged 12 to 15 and are eligible take the letter, text or email inviting you to get a booster dose with you to the appointment. If you do not have an invitation take a letter from your GP or hospital specialist about your condition, or a letter from the GP or hospital specialist of the person you live with confirming that anyone they live with should get a booster.
- In Scotland, you can book a booster appointment online if it has been more than three months since your second dose, or call 0800 030 8013. Drop-in booster doses are available in some areas. If you had your third primary dose at least three months ago, your health board should invite you for a booster (fourth dose).
- In Wales, your health board will contact you to arrange your booster appointment. If you think you are eligible and you haven't been contacted yet, get in touch with your local health board.
- In Northern Ireland, you can book a booster appointment online, at a Health Trust vaccination clinic, a participating pharmacy or wait for your GP to contact you. Over 18s can get a booster dose at walk-in vaccination hubs. People who have had a third primary dose should be contacted with an invitation for a booster (fourth dose).
Whichever vaccine you had for your first two (or three, if you were eligible) doses, you are likely to have either the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, or a half dose of the Moderna vaccine, for your booster. If you can't have either of these vaccines, you may be able to have the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
We also have an article explaining the difference between a booster and a third primary dose.
The Spring booster vaccination programme finished on 30 June 2022. This dose was the fifth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with a weakened immune system. It was advised for people who have a weakened immune system who turned 12 on or before 30 June 2022.
If you were unable to have the spring booster by the end of June, you may still be able to receive your booster vaccination before the end of July. Please make an appointment or attend a walk in centre.
Eligible adults will be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, with any eligible people aged between 12 and 18 offered the Pfizer vaccine. If you received your last vaccine (fourth dose) during the spring campaign, you do not need an additional spring dose, but would become eligible during the autumn booster campaign.
- You should be contacted by the NHS and invited to book your spring booster online or by calling NHS 119. Further information is available on GOV.UK.
- Call the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 seven days a week between 8am and 8pm for an appointment. Some health boards are also operating drop in clinics and details can be found on their websites. Further information is available from the NHS inform website.
- If you are eligible for a spring booster you should have received an invitation letter by early June. Check the drop-in page for the latest details about clinics where you don't need an appointment. Further information is available on the Welsh Government website.
- You can book your spring booster online if you are over 75 years old as of 30th June 2022 or you have previously received a letter from your GP/Trust clinician specifically stating that you require a 3rd primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Further information is available on the Public Health Agency website.
If you think you are eligible for a spring booster but did not get an invite, contact your GP or specialist.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published a statment on the COVID-19 vaccination programme for autumn 2022. The autumn 2022 booster would be the sixth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with a weakened immune system.
The programme is expected to start in early autumn. Details of how the programme will be delivered, including how people will be invited for vaccination will be set out nearer the start of the programme. Under the advice, those eligible for a further dose will be:
- residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those 50 years of age and over
- persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group
- persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- adults aged 16 to 64 years in a clinical risk group
Where operationally expedient, COVID-19 and influenza vaccines may be co-administered.
In order to optimise protection over the winter months, the autumn programme should aim to complete vaccination by the start of December 2022.
Some people with lymphoma have lowered immunity and might not respond as well as other people to vaccination. Lots of clinical trials are being carried out to test how effective the vaccine is in people with lymphoma and other types of blood cancer.
Results of trials carried out so far suggest that:
- Most people with Hodgkin lymphoma or high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma who finished treatment more than six months ago produce antibodies in response to vaccination.
- Many people with low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma produce antibodies in response to vaccination, but at lower levels than healthy people.
- People who are having treatment for lymphoma, or finished treatment within the last 6 to 12 months, are less likely to produce antibodies in response to vaccination, especially if they had treatment that targeted B cells.
- If people don't produce antibodies after initial COVID-19 vaccine doses, they may produce antibodies after additional doses.
It’s important to remember that antibodies aren’t the only way your body responds to vaccination (although they are the easiest response to measure). We also don’t know how antibody levels relate to your overall protection from COVID-19. Other parts of your immune system, such as T cells, are important too. T-cell responses to vaccination are harder to measure than antibodies, but early results suggest that many people who do not produce antibodies in response to vaccination are still able to produce T cells.
The National COVID Cancer Survey measured COVID antibody levels in people with cancer to find out more about how people with cancer respond to vaccination and what level of antibodies is enough to provide protection against COVID-19. We will update this page when findings are reported.
A consensus of UK lymphoma specialists also recommend that all patients with lymphoma should receive a non-replicating COVID-19 vaccine, unless there are particular reasons they can't have it (for example, if they've had serious allergic reactions in the past). The Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AztraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are all non-replicating. However, these vaccines might not achieve full protection for people who have lowered immunity.
If possible, you should complete both doses of the vaccine at least two weeks before you have treatment that lowers your immune system. If you are already on treatment that lowers your immune system, ask your specialist about the risks and benefits of having the vaccine or delaying it until your immune system is stronger. They can offer you advice based on your individual circumstances and immune status.
The safety profiles of the vaccines are very favourable. They are suitable for nearly everybody.
- The vaccines can't be given to people who are allergic to any of their ingredients. Most people with allergies (including food or penicillin allergies) can be vaccinated against COVID-19. Tell healthcare staff before you're vaccinated if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis). They may ask what you're allergic to, to make sure you can have the vaccine.
- The Oxford/AztraZeneca vaccine should not be given to people who:
- have ever had a condition called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (low platelets and blood clot caused by an immune response to the blood-thinning drug heparin)
- have ever had a rare condition called capillary leak syndrome (where the liquid part of your blood, without the blood cells, leaks out of your blood vessels and into your tissues)
- had a blood clot and low platelets after their first dose of AstraZeneca.
- The JCVI has advised that it is preferable for people under 40 to have a vaccine other than Oxford/AstraZeneca. If you have already had a first dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine without suffering any serious side effects you should complete the course.
The main side effects of the vaccines are a sore arm from the injection, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy, feeling or being sick. You may also get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery 1 or 2 days after your vaccination. Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week.
An extremely rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination with Oxford/AstraZeneca has been identified. Around 10 people develop this condition for every million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses given. This is seen more often in younger people and tends to occur between four days and four weeks following vaccination.
Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:
- a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
- a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
- a headache that's unusual for you along with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
- a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
- shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain
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.
Get urgent medical advice if you have any of these symptoms within a few days of being vaccinated:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart (palpitations).
Each nation has information about the COVID-19 vaccines: