Everyone aged 5 and over can get two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. All children aged 5 to 11 will be offered a low-dose vaccine, which is being rolled out on a "non-urgent" basis. The low-dose vaccine is already being offered to 5 to 11-year-olds with medical conditions that put them at greater risk.
A booster dose is available for everyone aged 16 and over, and for 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.
If you have or had a severely weakened immune system when you had your first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you may have been offered a third dose of the vaccine as well as additional booster doses.
The COVID-19 vaccines licensed for use in the UK are:
- the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxzevria®)
- the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine (Comirnaty®)
- the Moderna vaccine (Spikevax®)
- the Janssen vaccine (not currently available)
- the Nuvaxovid vaccine (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. Watch an NHS YouTube video explaining what's in the COVID-19 vaccines and how they work.
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.
- All 5 to 11 year olds who live in England will be offered two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from April 2022. Parents will receive information offering them the chance to make an appointment for their child to be vaccinated and will be asked to call the National Booking Service on 119 to make an appointment.
- Over 12s who live in England can book their vaccination online or by calling 119. You can also be vaccinated at a walk-in site.
- Children aged 5 to 11 will be offered COVID-19 vaccination appointments in community clinics from 19 March 2022. Appointment letters will be sent out to those with parental responsibility, they will be scheduled according to age but siblings can be given back-to-back appointments to avoid multiple trips for families. See NHS inform for more information on vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 years.
- Over 12s can go to a vaccine drop-in clinic.
- Over 16s can also register online for a first dose, book online for a second dose, or call 0800 030 8013 for a first or second dose.
- Offers of a first dose for 5 to 11 year olds with no underlying health conditions began on 15 March 2022. There is no age priority within the JCVI advice, which makes it easier for eligible siblings to be vaccinated at the same time. In most cases, children will receive an appointment from their local Health Board and details will be available and updated regularly on your local health board’s website and social media. In many health board areas there are walk-in clinics where no appointment is needed, and pop-up children and young people vaccination clinics are being held across Wales. Children will need to be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
- Public Health Wales have produced a guide for children aged 5-11 years who are at greater risk from COVID-19 infection. You can request a vaccine for a child aged 5 to 11 who is a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed here.
- Over 12s who live in Wales should have been contacted to arrange their vaccination. If you are eligible and you haven’t been invited for a vaccine yet, the Welsh government has advice on who to contact. This varies depending on where you live.
- Anyone aged over 5 who lives in Northern Ireland can book a vaccination online or by calling 0300 200 7813.
- Over 18s can also book at a local pharmacy. You can book a pharmacy that stocks the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (suitable for over 40s) or a pharmacy that stocks the Moderna vaccine (suitable for over 18s).
Your booking should include details of where you can have your vaccination. This might be at a hospital, a pharmacy, a community healthcare setting, at school, or a vaccination centre. All settings providing vaccination are COVID-safe.
While you are waiting to have your vaccination, and afterwards, it is important to keep taking appropriate measures to reduce your risk of being exposed to coronavirus.
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 dose and a booster (fourth 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 dose may help give you better protection. A booster (fourth dose) helps improve the protection you have from your first three doses of the vaccine. 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 health 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.
You do not need to have an antibody test to find out whether or not you responded in order to have a third 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.
How to get your third primary dose is slightly different depending on where you live:
- In England, people aged 12 or over can book a third primary dose online or attend a walk-in vaccination site if they have a letter confirming they are eligible and it has been eight weeks or more since their second dose. You'll need to bring with you either a letter from your GP or hospital specialist inviting you for a third dose, a hospital letter that describes the condition or treatment that caused you to have a severely weakened immune system at the time of your first or second dose or 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 first or second 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.
People who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their first and second doses and who had a third primary dose of the vaccine at least three months ago are eligible for a booster (fourth dose). An additional spring booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is available to people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system. Further information on this spring booster dose is in the next section. An autumn booster programme, is also planned, but details have not yet been confirmed.
Most people will be offered a single booster no sooner than three months after your second primary dose (or third primary dose, if you were eligible to have one). If you are due to start treatment that is likely to severely weaken your immune system, contact your medical team to discuss the best time to have your booster. Boosters are being offered in the same priority order as the initial vaccination programme (based on age and underlying health conditions). The initial booster programme started in September 2021. If you have not had a booster dose yet, you're still eligible and can book anytime.
How to get your initial booster is slightly different depending on where you live:
- In England, you can book your booster online if you're aged 12 or over and it is more than two months since your last COVID-19 vaccination. This will give you the opportunity to book an appointment that is at least three months after your second dose. If you cannot book an appointment online, you can call 119 free of charge. You can also get a booster at some walk-in vaccination clinics. If you have had a third primary dose, your GP or hospital specialist should invite you for your booster (fourth dose) when it's due, or you can get it at a walk-in vaccination site if you bring the letter, text or email inviting you to get a booster. If you do not have an invitation, you can bring 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.
A further booster dose has been advised for people aged 12 years and over who have a weakened immune system. This would be the fifth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with a weakened immune system. It is recommended to be given around six months after your last dose. The NHS will invite those eligible for a spring booster dose in all nations. Here are the details for each nation:
- You should be contacted by the NHS and invited to book your spring booster online or by calling NHS 119 from 21 March 2022. You may be offered appointment dates from three months (91 days) after your last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Try to book an appointment around six months after your last dose to get the best protection from your spring booster. 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 are eligible for a spring booster, but have not had a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine yet, you should have them as soon as possible. If you have a severely weakened immune system you need to get a third dose before you get a booster. 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. Further information is available on GOV.UK.
- The spring booster dose will usually be offered around six months after your last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Some people may be invited sooner than this (at least three months since their last dose) to help protect them against any increase in infections. Appointments will be offered from Monday 7 March 2022. Further information is available from the NHS inform website.
- Spring boosters are being rolled out from 15 March 2022 and will be offered around six months (and not before three months) after your last dose of the vaccine. All those eligible for spring boosters are being encouraged to wait for their invitations from their health board or GP. If you are eligible for a spring booster and live in Wales you should receive it by 30 June to make sure you will have enough time between this and the autumn 2022 booster. Further information is available on the Welsh Government website.
- Northern Ireland's spring booster campaign will officially start at the beginning of April 2022. Ideally you should wait six months from your first booster, but you may receive the spring booster if you had your first booster over three months ago. Community pharmacies are due to administer the vaccine to care home residents, trusts will run clinics for immunocompromised patients and GP surgeries will run clinics for all patients over the age of 75. 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 surgery or hospital specialist.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published an interim statement 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 JCVI’s current view is that in autumn 2022, a COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to:
- 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 65 years of age and over
- adults aged 16 to 64 years in a clinical risk group
Vaccination of other groups of people remains under consideration within JCVI’s ongoing review. The JCVI will announce its final plans for the autumn programme, including further detail on the definitions of clinical risk groups, in due course.
We will update this page with further details when they are available.
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.
Clinical trials are also looking at different options for people who cannot have COVID-19 vaccination, or do not respond to it. Treatments for COVID-19 are also becoming available, such as dexamethasone, Ronapreve (casirivimab and imdevimab), remdesivir, tocilizumab, sarilumab and molnupiravir.
We have more information on antibody tests after COVID vaccination. The National COVID Cancer Survey is measuring 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. If you are eligible, you can sign up online.
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 vaccine, Oxford/AztraZeneca vaccine, Moderna vaccine and Janssen vaccine 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.
After having the vaccine, it is important to carry on taking appropriate measures to reduce your risk of infection.
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.
- The 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.
You have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as an injection into your upper arm. You have an initial course of two doses. You usually have the second dose between 8 and 12 weeks after your first dose, although it might be given after three weeks if you are due to start treatment that is expected to lower your immune system.
You have the Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as an injection into your upper arm. You have an initial course of two doses. You usually have the second dose between 8 and 12 weeks after your first dose, although it might be given after four weeks if you are due to start treatment that is expected to lower your immune system.
You have the Janssen vaccine as an injection into your upper arm. You have one dose only.
You have the Nuvaxovid vaccine as an injection into your upper arm. You have an initial course of two doses. You usually have the second dose between 8 and 12 weeks after your first dose
The main side effects of the vaccines are pain and redness where the injection went in; muscle aches; headache; fatigue; and mild fever. These typically last a day or so. Occasionally, people develop swollen lymph nodes a few days after having the injection. The swelling usually goes down within around two weeks. Some people might feel sick or be sick.
A very rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination has been identified in people shortly after the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. This has also been seen very rarely in people who have had the Janssen vaccine. Around 15 people develop this condition for every million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses given. This is seen slightly more often in younger people. If you experience any of the following around four days to four weeks after vaccination, you should seek medical advice urgently:
- a new, severe headache which is not helped by usual painkillers or is getting worse
- a headache which seems worse when lying down or bending over or
- an unusual headache that may be accompanied by:
- blurred vision, nausea and vomiting
- difficulty with your speech
- weakness, drowsiness or seizures
- new, unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding
- shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain.
There have also been very rare reports of nerve inflammation in people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Around 5 or 6 people might develop this condition for every million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses given. If you develop weakness or paralysis in your hands or feet, which might spread to other parts of your body, within six weeks of having your vaccine, seek immediate medical advice.
There have been very rare cases of heart inflammation in people who have had the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. Around 10 people develop this condition for every million vaccine doses given. Most cases are very mild and recover on their own. If you experience any of the following within a few days of having your vaccine, get urgent medical advice:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- rapid heart rate
- fluttering or pounding heart (palpitations).
Each nation is updating information on the coronavirus vaccination programme as more details are confirmed:
- England (this includes information in an Easy Read format and British Sign Language resources)
- Northern Ireland
The NHS website also has information.
The government in England has produced a leaflet about COVID-19 vaccination, including information on who should have it. Public Health Wales have also produced answers to frequently asked questions. Public Health Northern Ireland have also produced a list of questions and answers on the vaccination programme.
If you'd like to know more, you can also download patient information leaflets for the vaccines:
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
- Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
- Moderna vaccine
- Janssen vaccine
- Nuvaxovid vaccine