Covid vaccine: When can I get my booster jab?

UK hit by fifth wave of infections earlier this summer driven by new Omicron variants

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 19 August 2022 12:37 BST
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer receives his Covid booster jab

Britain appears to have just seen off its latest wave of Covid-19 infections, although experts continue to warn that another could arrive this autumn unless due care is taken.

The country saw a 43 per cent spike in coronavirus cases at the beginning of June, seemingly caused by people coming together to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee over the course of a four-day weekend.

Driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron – the strain that spread so rapidly across the UK in December 2021 and January 2022 before gradually falling away – cases continued to rise to a peak of around 4.6m cases in mid-July before gradually beginning to decline.

While August finds Britain in a much better place in terms of infections, closer to just 120,000 per day according to the ZOE Health Study, the recent spike was a timely reminder that the coronavirus has not gone away and that we still need to be vigilant as mutations continue to emerge.

The return of restrictions to rein in transmission is by no means impossible in the future and could eventually become necessary, perhaps resulting in the return of face masks and social distancing in public spaces or even the rollout of second vaccine booster jabs.

Since the winter, only the over-75s have been offered second boosters (their fourth in total), meaning that immunity could be beginning to wane for the majority of the population six months on from their last shot.

“If we are going to go into another wave, maybe that’s something that ought to be reconsidered,” John Roberts of the Covid Actuaries group suggested to The Independent in June.

The recent approval of Moderna’s new Omicron-specific jab is a welcome development for the UK in that regard and the shot could end up playing a significant role in any further vaccine drives to come.

NHS rules on boosters were relaxed in December 2021 so that all over-18s were offered a third jab, a decision to head off Omicron supported by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which also recommended cutting the period between second and third jabs from six months to three in a bid to beat the variant.

That means that, if you have still not had a third jab and are aged over 18 – or over 16 with a health condition – and it has been at least three months (91 days) since you received your second dose, you can still get a booster.

If you are eligible, you no longer have to wait for the NHS to contact you to make an appointment online (as was the case originally).

You can also visit a local walk-in vaccination centre to get your jab, with patients advised to use the NHS online walk-in finder to locate their nearest centre with a postcode.

If you have had a positive Covid test, you are advised to wait four weeks (28 days) before booking your booster, starting from the date you had the test.

If you believe you are showing symptoms associated with the coronavirus, the current NHS advice is to take a lateral flow test and isolate at home for five days if you test positive to avoid passing it on to others (you should keep away from anyone likely to be particularly vulnerable because of their age or a pre-existing condition for 10 days).

If you do have to go out in public, you are encouraged to wear a face mask, avoid crowded indoor spaces and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

If you are concerned about your symptoms or believe they are getting worse, you are advised to visit, call 111 or call your local GP surgery.

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