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Millions of people in the UK have received their COVID-19 vaccination. The vaccine is safe and effective and provides the best protection from COVID-19.

Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • Reduce risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • Reduce risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
  • Protect against COVID-19 variants
  • Reduce risk of getting Long COVID

The first dose gives some protection from three to four weeks after you’ve had it, but you need two doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.

Ways to get your vaccine

There are several ways you can get a vaccine:

*Please check what vaccines are being offered at your local walk-in centre, and if enough time has passed since your last dose, before attending.

If you are unwell when your appointment is due

You should not get vaccinated if you are feeling unwell, have COVID-19 symptoms or are waiting for a COVID-19 test result, or within four weeks of having a positive COVID-19 test.

You can update your appointment online or call 119 if that’s how you originally made your appointment.

If you attend a walk-in centre, you can bring your NHS number if you know it, but it isn’t essential.

Read what happens at your vaccine appointment on the NHS website.

Information by age group

Children aged 5 to 11

All children aged 5 to 11 can receive two paediatric (child) doses of the vaccine, with at least 12 weeks between doses. A paediatric dose is smaller than doses given to those aged 12 and over. Booking for 5-11 year olds can be made through the NHS National Booking System.

Children and young people aged 5 to 11 who are at serious risk from the complications of COVID-19 infection, and those living with people who have a weakened immune system, are also eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more in this guide for parents.

Children aged 12 to 15

All children aged 12 to 15 years have been invited to receive both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, with the second dose no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose.

The School Age Immunisation Team will offer a first and second dose to all eligible 12- to 15-year-old children at mainstream secondary schools in Portsmouth in the spring 2022 term through the school-based COVID-19 vaccination programme.

If a young person still needs their first dose, or is eligible for their second dose, they can:

  • Attend a local walk-in site with a parent or carer who can give consent (listed above) or search online for the nearest walk-in site, or book an appointment through the National Booking System or call 119.
  • Attend vaccination day at school with a completed parental consent form. Schools will contact parents/carers directly with information about the school vaccination programme.

Anyone under the age of 18 who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not at high risk from COVID-19 must wait 12 weeks before they can have a vaccination.

Parents/carers of young people aged 12-15 will be asked to give consent for the vaccine. Find out more about the vaccination for young people on the NHS website.

Young people aged 16 and 17

Young people aged 16 and 17 can get a COVID-19 vaccine. They are given in two doses. You can have your second dose eight weeks after your first.

To get your vaccine, you can:

  • Attend a local walk-in clinic (listed above) or find your nearest walk-in clinic – no appointments needed
  • Book an appointment online through the NHS National Booking Service or call 119
  • Wait to be contacted by your GP practice
  • Have your vaccine at school (if you’re aged 16 or 17 and your school is delivering the in-school vaccination programme delivered by the School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) team)

16- and 17-year-olds don’t need to be accompanied by, or have permission from, an adult to get the vaccine.

Anyone under the age of 18 who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not at high risk from COVID-19 must wait 12 weeks before they can have a vaccination.

You can bring your NHS number to a walk-in appointment if you know it, but that isn’t essential.

Booster jabs

Booster doses are an important part of protecting yourself from COVID-19 if you are at higher risk from severe COVID-19.

Like some other vaccines, levels of protection may decline over time. Booster doses help boost your antibodies and give you good protection from becoming seriously ill or needing to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19.

Who can get a booster dose

The NHS should contact you if you’re eligible for a seasonal booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this spring.

You may be offered a seasonal booster if you:

  • are aged 75 or over (you need to have turned 75 on or before 30 June 2023)
  • live in a care home for older adults
  • are aged 5 or over and have a weakened immune system

Find out more on the NHS website

More information about the vaccine

Vaccine safety

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

Side effects

Like all medicines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them. Most side effects are mild and shouldn’t last any longer than a week. These include:

  • A sore arm from the injection
  • Feeling tired
  • A headache
  • Feeling achy
  • Feeling or being sick

You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine but you may have caught it just before or after your vaccination.

Serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are extremely rare.

Development of vaccines

All vaccines used in the UK must be approved by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which makes sure the vaccines meet strict international standards for safety, quality and effectiveness. Once a vaccine is approved, it’s closely monitored to continue to make sure it is safe and effective.

You can watch a video about how COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly and safely on the NHS website, where you’ll also find further information about vaccine safety.


There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant.

You can have the vaccine if you’re aged 18 and over and you’re:

  • Trying for a baby or might get pregnant in the future
  • Pregnant or think you might be
  • Breastfeeding

The vaccines you’ll be offered depends on if you’re pregnant and how old you are. The vaccines cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

Read more about pregnancy, breastfeeding fertility and the vaccination on the NHS website and read the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Q&As on COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility.

Allergic reactions

Most people with allergies (including food or penicillin allergies) can be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tell healthcare staff before you’ve been vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis). They may ask what you’re allergic to, to make sure you can have the vaccine.

Serious allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines are very rare.

Types of COVID-19 vaccine

There are currently four COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK. These are:

  • Moderna
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Janssen (available later this year)

When you book, you’ll be offered appointments for vaccines that are suitable for you. This might be due to your age or if you are pregnant for example.

Walk-in clinics should advertise what type of vaccines are being offered at the clinic.

Booking your second vaccine

You should have the same vaccine for both doses, unless you had a serious allergic reaction to the first.

If you book your appointments online, you’ll be asked to book your first and second appointments at the same time. You can manage your appointments on the NHS website to view appointments and re-book if needed.

If you have your first dose at a walk-in clinic, you can book your second COVID-19 vaccination appointment online after 24 hours of your first dose. Or you can attend a walk-in clinic 8 weeks after your first dose.

Useful links

NHS staff are doing an incredible job to deliver the vaccine while at the same time continuing to be there for everyone who needs care.

Here’s how we can help them:

  • If you’ve booked an appointment, please attend at the time you’re asked to attend.
  • If you attend a walk-in clinic, please follow the guidance at that location.
  • Wherever you receive your vaccination, please continue to follow all the guidance in place to control the virus and save lives, even if you’ve already had your vaccine.

Got a question about the vaccine?

If you have any questions about the vaccine, you can contact the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Vaccination Helpline on 0300 561 0018 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm at weekends.