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Covid vaccine - FAQs

Last updated: 20 June 2022

We have compiled some reliable information about the COVID-19 vaccine to answer your most common queries.

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What's the latest news on the booster vaccine?

Cases have been rising again according to official figures since the Jubilee weekend. A second spring booster jab was recently launched for all over 75s and for those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. This is available until the end of June. 

Meanwhile first and second doses for people aged five years old and over are available and can be booked online here. Or a  booster can be booked for those who are 16 or over (or for 12-15 year olds who are at risk).

Those with a severely weakened immune system when they had their first or second dose will be offered an additional primary dose (3rd dose) before their booster.

Those who are eligible will be invited to arrange an appointment for their booster jab by phone, by letter, by text or by email. 

Check for England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

Who will be invited?

Those who are considered most vulnerable to COVID-19, including people who are 75 and over, care home residents, and those who are 12 and over with a weakened immune system, will be offered another booster. This will be offered around six months after the last dose was taken – read more.

As with the flu vaccine, they will be able to receive their booster jab at a local medical practice such as their GP practice or pharmacy. 

If you are new to caring, we would suggest you contact your GP and let them know that you are a carer. We also recommend contacting your local carers’ organisation to find out how carers can be supported if you need to arrange this on behalf of someone. 


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When will we receive the next booster?

The UK vaccine programme has made considerable progress. It is now considered really important that everyone continues to take up the offer of the booster, when possible, to provide continued protection and to prevent people becoming severely ill and being hospitalised. Following the spring booster for the older population and most vulnerable, there will be a further roll-out in autumn 2022.

Although there has been an overarching UK plan, there are some differences between the nations' roll-out programmes – for an overview, please see 'What are the details of the vaccination programme where I live?'

Will those who have a weaker immune system receive a fourth dose of the vaccine?

Yes, the JCVI confirmed on 29 November 2021 that a fourth dose will be offered to those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system: 'The JCVI advised yesterday that those who are immunosuppressed and have received a third dose of the vaccine will also be offered a fourth dose to boost their defence.' (Gov.uk website)

How is the vaccine roll-out going for children?

All children aged five to 11 in all four UK nations are being offered two doses of the vaccine (from April 2022) with a gap of 12 weeks between them. In general, the JCVI has stressed that children have a low risk of serious illness from COVID-19.  Consent will need to be provided by a parent, guardian or carer. For more details, see this NHS page. Anyone who is vulnerable or who has a weakened immune system is being prioritised by the NHS for vaccines and boosters.


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Getting vaccinated

You can apply for the vaccine using the national online booking system. On the Gov.uk website, there is also information covering COVID-19 vaccination resources for children and young people available in different formats including a variety of languages, Braille and Easy Read. They are designed to help parents, young people and carers of children make decisions about having a vaccine.

Across the UK, if you haven’t been called up yet, it is advisable to request one as soon as possible unless you are exempt. 

There are lots of benefits to being recorded as an unpaid carer on your GP record. It helps your GP to know, so that you can be advised of local support services and prioritised for certain vaccines including COVID-19 and the flu vaccine. You can refer to this government guidance for more information. It may be helpful to clarify your status as a carer – see our template letter

In Scotland, unpaid carers should have been invited to get their coronavirus vaccine by phone or letter. You 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. You can go to drop-in clinics or register online: https://www.nhsinform.scot/vaccineregistration. In Wales, all unpaid carers are being encouraged to register here if you haven't already received your vaccine. Contact your local health board if you've not been offered your jab yet. In Northern Ireland, you can book online or call 0300 200 7813. Walk-in centres are another option. See the relevant link for more details:

England    Scotland     Wales     Northern Ireland   

Can I get vaccinated at the same time as someone I care for? 

Every effort will be made to ensure that you can be vaccinated at the same time as someone you care for if you are accompanying them to their appointment. If you wish to receive your vaccination at the same time, you must make this known to the GP surgery in advance to confirm an appointment. Note that the vaccination sites are not able to support walk-in appointments.

Will I have to prove my status as an unpaid carer when I go to get my vaccine? 

You should not have to prove that you are a carer for more information, see this government guidance (page 8). However, we have heard that some people have been asked for proof, so you may wish to take something with you to indicate your status just in case. If you don’t have photo ID, you won’t be turned away but you might have to prove your identity in another way – for example with your name and date of birth and address.

What can I do to prepare for the vaccine? 

  • When notified about your vaccine, book your appointment as soon as possible.
  • Take steps to arrange alternative support for the person you are caring for while you are at your vaccination appointment. If you need help to arrange this, please contact your local council (trust in Northern Ireland) or local carers organisation.
  • Read the coronavirus vaccination leaflet so you know what to expect when being vaccinated.
  • Ensure you have some time to rest afterwards.

Seeking information 

If you have any questions about the vaccine, it may be helpful to look at reputable sources, such as the NHS site, and make a few notes in advance of your appointment so that you can gain clarity about any concerns. You may wish to provide additional reassurance to someone you care for about the protection the vaccine could offer them, both now and in the long term. 

It is also worth looking at the websites of local carers' organisations or trusts. The roll-out is likely to differ from area to area, and many of these provide useful details about what options will be available where you live.

Watch out for scams

A false NHS text message has been circulating requesting that you click on a link to apply for a vaccine. It then takes you through to a fake NHS website platform requesting more information. For further details on how to spot this, see this helpful link from Which?

Action Fraud's website states that there has been a recent increase in medical/NHS related email and text message scams. If you feel worried that you or someone you know has been affected, you can contact Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.

We would also urge you to spread the word among friends and family about scams like this, and only follow information that's available from trustworthy sources. No one should be claiming that you need to pay for the vaccine as there are no shortcuts (see below).


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Will I need to pay and how will I be notified?

You will not need to pay for the vaccine. It will be rolled out through the NHS and you will be notified about the process of getting one. It is advisable to be wary of any schemes suggesting that paying is necessary which are likely to be scams.

When it's your turn, you will be contacted by the NHS. You may be contacted by phone, email, letter or text so it's a good idea to keep an eye on all your channels.

You may be asked to go:
- to hospital
- to local GP practice or community pharmacy
- to a vaccination centre
- or special arrangements will be made if you are unable to travel.


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Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The vaccines cannot be approved by the UK regulator (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - MHRA) until they have been rigorously tested to meet the highest safety standards. Therefore, at this stage of public roll out, we can be assured that they have met these standards.


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How will this work alongside the flu vaccine? Will we need to leave a gap?

The current recommendation is that there should be a gap of at least seven days in between the vaccines according to the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation).

You will be contacted directly when it is possible for you, or those you care for, to receive the vaccine and it is important to discuss any concerns you might have with a medical professional.


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What can I expect after having the vaccine?

Any side-effects from the vaccine or booster should be mild and short-term. If you continue to feel unwell, it is important to seek medical advice as a precautionary measure. The possible side-effects you might experience can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/safety-and-side-effects/.


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Will private carers (paid care workers) be prioritised for a booster vaccine in autumn?

Personal Assistants or private carers should be prioritised for a booster vaccine according to the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-provides-interim-advice-on-an-autumn-covid-19-booster-programme

Local authorities should be communicating with direct payment (or personal budget) employers and assisting with information as well as covering costs to enable that worker to attend an appointment.

If you have a private carer and would like more information, we would suggest you contact your direct payment lead at the local authority for further guidance.  


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What are the details of the vaccination programme where I live?

The vaccination programme differs slightly across the nations. You can contact your local carers’ organisation and/or local authority (or trust if you are based in Northern Ireland) for clarity if you're unsure if you are eligible to receive the vaccine at this stage. 

You can read the guidance specific to where you are based here:

England     Scotland     Wales     Northern Ireland


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Will I lose my appointment if I can't reach a vaccination centre?

Some people have expressed concerns that they cannot travel easily and worry they may miss out.

If you have been advised to travel to a GP practice or vaccination centre but cannot get there – for example if you're assisting someone you care for who's too vulnerable – we would suggest that you contact your local GP to explain your circumstances and ask what alternative arrangements can be set up for you. 


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