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Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

NHS information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, including who can get a vaccine, how to book and how well the vaccine works.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19.

Everyone aged 5 (on or before 31 August 2022) and over can get a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

People aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can also get a booster dose.

People aged 5 and over who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their 1st or 2nd dose will be offered an additional primary dose (3rd dose) before any booster doses.

Some people, including those aged 50 years or over, those at higher risk or who are pregnant, and frontline health and social care workers, will be offered a seasonal booster (autumn booster).

The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in the UK are:

  • Moderna (Spikevax)
  • Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  • Novavax (Nuvaxovid)
  • AstraZeneca (Oxford) (not available)
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) (not available)
  • Valneva (Valneva) (not available)

You cannot usually choose which vaccine you have.

Most people can have any of the COVID-19 vaccines, but some people are only offered certain vaccines.

For example:

  • if you're pregnant you'll usually be offered appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccines
  • if you're under 18, you'll only be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine
  • in very rare cases if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to one of the common vaccines, you may be referred to a specialist clinic for an alternative COVID-19 vaccine

Most people will be offered a booster dose that gives protection from multiple types of COVID-19.

This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccine you had for your first 2 doses.

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.

Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
  • protect against COVID-19 variants

The 1st dose should give you some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you've had it. You need 2 doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.

Most people also need a booster dose to help improve the protection from the first 2 doses of the vaccine.

There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it's important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

They can cause some side effects, but not everyone gets them.

Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm from the injection
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccine side effects and safety

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain egg or animal products.

You can find out about the ingredients in the vaccines currently available in the UK:

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