Steve September 14, 2021

By Philippa Roxby

Health reporter

image source, Getty Images

All people over 50 in the UK will be offered a single-dose booster jab of the Covid vaccine, the health secretary has said.

Sajid Javid also confirmed that all children aged 12-15 will be eligible to receive a single vaccine dose.

What is the plan?

About 30 million people will receive a single booster jab. They are:

  • Adults over the age of 50
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Older adults in residential care homes
  • People aged 16-49 years old with underlying health conditions which put them at greater risk of severe Covid
  • Adults who share a household with vulnerable people

The jab will be offered at least six months after a second vaccination, and is likely to be either Pfizer or Moderna.

Mr Javid said that the roll-out of boosters would start in the next week.

Speaking earlier, the deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Jonathan Van-Tam, recommended that people should take a flu jab if it is offered alongside the booster, but said that it may not always be available.

Will more children be offered the vaccine?

The governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have confirmed healthy over-12s will be offered a single Covid jab. A decision is awaited in Scotland.

There is no vaccine currently approved for use in the under-12s in the UK.

Who’s being vaccinated at the moment?

All over-18s are eligible to have two doses of the Covid vaccine.

Young people aged 16 and 17 are being offered one dose, with the intention of having a second at a later date.

The vaccine is also available for over-12s with underlying health conditions, or those who live with others at high risk – about 10% of children in this age group.

How do I get a vaccine?

In England adults and those within three months of turning 18 can book a jab online or by calling 119. You can also visit a walk-in clinic without an appointment.

All 16 and 17-year-olds are being invited to make an appointment through their GP.

In Scotland, over-16s can register to get the vaccine on the NHS inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013. Most health boards also have drop-in vaccination clinics.

In Wales, adults should contact their local health board if they’ve not been offered their jab. Invites are being sent to 16 and 17-year-olds.

In Northern Ireland, you can book online or call 0300 200 7813. Walk-in centres are open to older teenagers.

How soon should I get my second jab?

In England, the recommended gap between first and second jabs is between 8-12 weeks.

In Wales, the government says you should be called in for your second dose “within 12 weeks” of the first.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the recommended gap is eight weeks.

image source, Getty Images

Which vaccine will I get?

People who are under 40 or pregnant are being offered Pfizer or Moderna rather than Oxford-AstraZeneca, because of concerns about a possible connection with extremely rare cases of blood clots.

Under-18s are currently being offered Pfizer, although the Moderna vaccine has also been authorised for use in children in the UK.

Is vaccination compulsory?

It’s not compulsory, although the government wants everyone who can have the vaccine to get it.

The health secretary has said it is “highly likely” that both Covid and flu jabs will be compulsory for all frontline NHS and care workers in England.

Being fully vaccinated will be a condition of entry for nightclubs and some other events in Scotland from 1 October.

Some jobs also require staff members to have the jab.

image source, Getty Images

What about side effects?

The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.

They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.

media captionWhy it is normal for some people to experience short-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccines

BBC Radio presenter Lisa Shaw died after developing blood clots following her first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The clots are extremely rare. There have been 417 reported cases and 72 deaths after 24.8 million first doses and 23.9 million second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK.

Separately, a very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

You should discuss any existing serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.

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