What is the booster, when will I get mine and what version will it be? As the over-50s and vulnerable people will receive an additional Covid vaccination before Christmas, we answer the essential questions
What is a booster shot?
It is a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine that is intended to provide more and longer-lasting protection than the first two.
A study by Public Health England found that immunity starts to wane about 20 weeks after receiving the second dose, especially in the elderly.
This means that people gradually become more likely to contract the virus, end up in hospital with a serious illness or die.
A trial called CovBoost, which examined the impact of giving a third dose, found that it increased antibody levels higher than those given two shots.
A study by Public Health England found that immunity starts to wane about 20 weeks after receiving the second dose, especially in the elderly. This means that people are gradually more likely to contract the virus, end up in hospital with a serious illness or die (stock image)
Who gets one?
About 32 million people in the UK will be offered it initially.
They include everyone in priority groups one through nine in the initial rollout of the vaccine.
This includes individuals 50 years of age or older, people who live and work in retirement homes, and primary care health and social workers. All individuals aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk for severe Covid are also eligible, as are adult contacts of people with suppressed immune systems.
When will I get mine?
According to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), people should wait at least six months after their second dose.
The NHS will start inviting people this week – vaccinations will start next week. Health officials hope to have offered a booster shot to anyone who qualifies before Christmas.
Which version do I get?
The JCVI has recommended the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine regardless of the vaccine people received for their first and second doses.
Half a dose of Moderna can also be used as a booster, but the AstraZeneca/Oxford shot will only be used if patients are allergic to the other.
All three are approved for use by the medical regulator, the MHRA, and are considered safe and effective.
Some vaccination centers or GP surgeries may only offer one type of shot, which means people can’t choose.
The NHS will start inviting people this week – vaccinations will start next week. Health officials hope to have offered a booster shot to all eligible before Christmas (stock image)
Will I still get my flu shot?
The NHS is embarking on its largest ever flu vaccination program and wants those eligible to get both shots.
The MHRA has approved the simultaneous use of the Covid and flu vaccines and says it will not affect their safety or effectiveness.
It is possible that one will be given in each arm, but it is likely that many people will get them on different days as they may need the flu shot before it is their turn to get the Covid booster.