Winter Vaccinations 2022

I’m eligible for a free flu jab, does this mean I will get a COVID booster?

Not everyone who can have a flu jab on the NHS will be eligible for a COVID booster (although if you are invited for a COVID booster, you will also be eligible for a flu jab). People aged 50 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, those aged 5 years and over in a clinical risk group and health and social care staff will be offered a booster of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine this autumn.

Visit coronavirus booster vaccination on NHS.UK for more information.

How do I get my vaccinations?

You may be contacted directly by your GP practice and offered an appointment. Also, when the COVID booster is available for your age group, you will be able to book an appointment through the national booking service by visiting www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or ringing 119 if you don't have access to the internet.

I’m a frontline care worker, am I eligible for a flu jab and a COVID booster? How do I get them?

A flu jab and COVID booster will also be offered to front-line health and social care staff, those who care for vulnerable individuals and families of individuals with weakened immune systems. You may get it through your employer or you can book at your GP/pharmacist or via the national booking service by visiting www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.

Why are flu and COVID vaccinations important?

Both COVID-19 and seasonal flu are more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions.

This winter it is expected that many respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and flu may be circulating at high levels – this may put increasing pressure on hospitals and other health care services. For these reasons, people aged 50 years and over, those in care homes, and those aged 5 years and over in clinical risk groups are being offered an autumn booster of COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I still catch Flu or COVID after being vaccinated?

The COVID-19 booster will reduce the chance of you becoming severely unwell from COVID-19 this winter. It may take a few days for your body to build up some extra protection from the booster.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but any infection should be less severe.

The same applies to the flu jab.

When should I have my vaccinations?

You should be offered an appointment for your COVID booster between September and December, with those at highest risk being called in first. You should have your booster at least 3 months after your last dose of vaccine.

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn or early winter before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later. GP surgeries and pharmacies get the flu vaccine in batches. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, ask if you can book an appointment for when more vaccines are available.

Can you have them at the same time?

If you have an appointment for a COVID-19 booster vaccine at a GP surgery or pharmacy, you may also be offered a flu vaccine at the same time. This is safe but you don’t have to have them at the same time.

Do not delay booking your flu vaccine appointment so that you can get both vaccines together. Only some people will be offered both vaccines at the same time.

What if I’ve had COVID already?    

Although there is some natural immunity and protection from a repeat infection of COVID-19 after recovering from the illness, it is not yet clear how long this natural immunity lasts. You should still have your booster if you are eligible.

If you are still unwell, wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine. If you have had confirmed COVID-19 you should ideally wait 4 weeks before having your autumn booster. 

I haven’t had one (or both) of my initial COVID vaccinations, can I just have the booster?

If you have not yet had either of your first 2 doses of the vaccine (or a third dose for those with a weakened immune system) you should have them as soon as possible.

I had both my 1st and 2nd dose but didn’t get the booster earlier this year, can I just have this new one?

If you are eligible for the autumn booster but think you have missed a previous booster you should still go ahead – you will not need another dose.

Which COVID booster will I get?

You will be given a booster dose of a vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna. You may be offered an updated combination version of these booster vaccines. For a very small number of people another vaccine product may be advised by your doctor.

Both the previous and the combination vaccines boost protection very well, although the combination vaccines produce slightly higher levels of antibody against some strains of Omicron.

As we cannot predict which variants of COVID-19 will be circulating this winter, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have concluded that both types of vaccine can be used in adults, and that no one should delay vaccination to receive combination vaccines. So you will be offered the right vaccine for you at the right time.

Please accept the vaccination that is offered to you as soon as you can – it is important to have your booster and build up your protection against severe illness before the winter.