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Autumn 2022: NHS COVID-19 & Flu Vaccine Booster Programme

Since the NHS made history by giving Maggie Keenan in Coventry the first COVID-19 shot outside of clinical trials in December 2020, more than 126 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been given.

The NHS is taking a number of steps to get ready for winter as it continues to deal with record demand for its urgent and emergency care services, including increasing bed capacity, staffing NHS 111 and 999, and collaborating with colleagues in social care to ensure patients can be discharged on time. The autumn 2022 vaccine booster programme is one of these steps. In this article we have compiled some frequently asked questions regarding the vaccine booster programme, we hope you find the answers helpful…

“Who is being offered an autumn booster?”

The severity of COVID-19 increases with age and in individuals with particular underlying medical disorders. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities may be under more strain this winter as a result of the predicted high levels of COVID-19 and flu infection, among other respiratory ailments. The COVID-19 vaccine is being administered as an autumn booster to individuals 50 years of age and older, residents of nursing homes, and individuals in clinical risk categories who are 5 years of age or older. Additionally, a booster will be provided to front-line health and social service workers, caregivers for the weakly immune, and relatives of those individuals.

“When will I be offered a booster?”

Between September and December, you should be given the option of an appointment, with those who are most at risk getting the call first. At least three months should pass since your last vaccination before getting your booster shot. If you qualify for a flu shot, you might be able to receive both at once; if not, please go with the flu shot anyway; you can have the other shot later.

“Which vaccine will I be offered?”

A Pfizer or Moderna vaccine booster dose will be administered to you. You might be given a new combination dose of these booster shots, which combine a half-dose of the prior shot with a half-dose of a shot to protect against the Omicron form. Your doctor might suggest a different vaccine product for a very small subset of patients. Although the combination vaccines produce slightly higher levels of antibody against particular strains of Omicron, both the prior and newer vaccines significantly increase protection. The appropriate vaccination will be provided to you at the appropriate time.

“Is there anyone who shouldn’t take up the offer of an autumn booster?”

Very few individuals should not use this booster. You should talk to your doctor if you experienced a serious reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.

“Does the booster have any side effects?”

The typical adverse reactions are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines, including the combo vaccines being given this fall, and consist of the following:

- feeling heavy, uncomfortable, and sensitive in the arm where you received your injection

- feeling tired

- Headache

- any aches and pains, or minor flu-like symptoms

To feel better, you can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dosage recommendations on the label). Even though a fever may appear a day or two after immunisation, stay at home if you experience any other COVID-19 symptoms or if your fever lasts longer; you may need to undergo a test. Typically, post-vaccination symptoms linger no longer than a week.

“Can you still catch COVID-19 after having the vaccine?”

The COVID-19 booster will lower your risk of developing a serious COVID-19 illness during winter. Your body may need a few days to develop additional defences from the booster. No vaccine is 100% effective, much like all medications; some people may still get COVID-19 even after receiving a shot, but any infection should be milder.

It is crucial to have your booster shot and increase your defences against serious sickness before the winter, so please take the vaccination that is offered to you as soon as you are able to. However, if COVID-19 has been confirmed, you should ideally wait 4 weeks before getting your autumn booster. If you are self-isolating or awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, you should avoid scheduling a vaccination appointment.

With the EK health kiosk at a vaccination clinic you can opportunistically capture patient data whilst your patients wait. Why not give us a call on 01223 812737 or email to find out more.

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