Frequently asked questions

We know that you might have some questions, worries about the vaccine or getting to an appointment – but we’re here to help.
COVID-19 booster vaccine frequently asked questions

What is a COVID-19 booster?

What is a COVID-19 booster?

Like some other vaccines, levels of protection may begin to wane over time. This booster dose will help extend the protection you gained from your first 2 doses and give you longer term protection.

Why do I need a booster?

Why do I need a booster?

The booster will help to reduce the risk serious illness and of you needing admission to hospital due to COVID-19 infection this winter.

Is a third vaccine different to a booster jab?

Is a third vaccine different to a booster jab?

Yes. People with a weakened immune system are being offered a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is also known as a third primary dose.

If you had a weakened immune system when you had your first 2 doses, the vaccine may not have given you as much protection as it can for people who do not have a weakened immune system.

A third dose may help give you better protection.

Who can get a booster?

Who can get a booster?

People aged 40 years and over, health and social care workers and younger people at risk are being offered a booster dose of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. You can book online or find a pop-up clinic or call 119 to make an appointment to have your booster.

When can I get my booster?

When can I get my booster?

The booster is being offered at least 6 months (182 days) after your second dose.

What if it’s been more than 6 months since my second dose?

What if it’s been more than 6 months since my second dose?

Protection against severe disease from the first 2 doses seems to decline very slowly. So don’t worry if your booster vaccine is given a short time after the 6 months time-point. When you are eligible book in as soon as you are able. The booster dose should help to extend your protection into the next year.

Which vaccine will I be offered?

Which vaccine will I be offered?

You will be given a booster dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

Do I need to get the same type of vaccine as my previous 2 doses?

Do I need to get the same type of vaccine as my previous 2 doses?

You will be offered the right vaccine for you which may be the same or different from the vaccines that you had before. All have been shown to give excellent protection

Will there be any side effects?

Will there be any side effects?

As with your previous dose the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK, and include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection; this tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • general aches, or mild flu like symptoms

You can rest and take paracetamol to help make you feel better. Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection.

Can I still catch COVID-19 after having the booster?

Can I still catch COVID-19 after having the booster?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few days for your body to build up some protection from the booster.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe. Keep up hands, face, space and ventilation to protect each other this winter.

What if I’ve not had the first vaccinations?

What if I’ve not had the first vaccinations?

If you have not yet had either of your first 2 doses of the vaccine you should have them as soon as possible. You can book online or find a walk-in clinic or call 119 to make an appointment.

You will still need the booster but the timing of it will depend on when you had your first 2 doses.

Can I get my flu vaccine at the same time as my booster?

Can I get my flu vaccine at the same time as my booster?

Most people who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine.

If you are offered both vaccines, it’s safe to have them at the same time.

Can I get my booster at a walk-in site?

Can I get my booster at a walk-in site?

Hundreds of walk-in sites across the country are now offering booster vaccines as the NHS ‘Grab-a-Jab’ campaign returns, making it even easier for people who are eligible to get their top-up jab. Find your nearest walk-in.

Please be patient if you have to wait at a walk in centre. Our clinicians are working as quickly as is safely possible but there may be some waiting.

COVID-19 vaccine frequently asked questions

Is it safe?

Is it safe?

Yes. The 3 vaccines on offer are very safe. You could be offered 1 of 3 vaccines at your appointment. The Pfizer/BioNTech, the Oxford/AstraZeneca or the Moderna vaccine. They have all been through the full safety sign off process for this country and millions of people have already received theirs.

What is in the vaccine?

What is in the vaccine?

Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection. But with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of memory cells that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine uses a different technology than the Pfizer and Moderna versions to stimulate the body’s natural defences – or immune system – to produce its own protection against the virus.

Overall, the main ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are very similar and uses mRNA – or messenger RNA – which works by giving the body instructions to produce a protein which is present on the surface of the coronavirus. The immune system then learns to recognise and produce antibodies against the protein.

Other ingredients include water, sugar and salt to balance the acidity levels in the body.

How has it been developed so quickly?

How has it been developed so quickly?

Because of the global emergency, developing this vaccine has been prioritised by scientists, drug companies and governments, and a huge amount of collaboration has helped this to happen as fast as possible.

What if I have allergies?

What if I have allergies?

If you have any allergies and are concerned, then you can speak to your GP to ask for advice. When you are at the vaccine appointment, make sure you tell the team and they will monitor you closely afterwards. All the nurses are trained and know what to do if you need help.

Can the vaccine change my DNA?

Can the vaccine change my DNA?

There are rumours that mRNA vaccines will alter our DNA because the RNA molecule can convert information stored in DNA into proteins. That’s simply, not true. It’s critical to note that the mRNA vaccines never enter the nucleus of the cell, where our DNA is stored.

How much does it cost?

How much does it cost?

Nothing. The vaccine is completely free for everyone and always will be.

Why should I have the vaccine?

Why should I have the vaccine?

Having the vaccine means you are much less likely to become ill from COVID-19, which can cause serious illness and death.

Having the vaccine could also benefit those around you. Although it doesn’t mean you can’t spread the virus, it may make it less likely. And if more people are vaccinated, that also reduces the potential for the virus to form new variants that might stop a vaccine from working in future.

Will it affect me if I’m trying to get pregnant?

Will it affect me if I’m trying to get pregnant?

No it won’t. There’s nothing that hangs around in your body after you have had the vaccine that will affect you trying to get pregnant. It’s likely to be safe to have the vaccine if you are pregnant and have other health conditions. We suggest you speak to your GP to decide if it’s right for you. You can also have the vaccine if you are breastfeeding.

I am over 40, but I don’t want the AstraZeneca vaccine, can I have an alternative?

I am over 40, but I don’t want the AstraZeneca vaccine, can I have an alternative?

Currently, you will only be offered a specific vaccine if you’re either pregnant or aged under 40 and do not have a health condition that increases your risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Will I get ill after I’ve had the jab?

Will I get ill after I’ve had the jab?

Some people might feel a bit achy, or have chills, or feel a bit under the weather the day after they have the vaccine. This is absolutely normal. Your body is getting used to something new and learning how to work if you actually get the virus. Some paracetamol and fluids will help you feel better.

How do we know these vaccines won’t affect my health several years from now?

How do we know these vaccines won’t affect my health several years from now?

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others.

History tells us that severe side effects from vaccines are extremely rare, and if they do occur, they usually happen within the first 2 months.

COVID-19 vaccine technologies have been studied for years and used in other treatments without issue.

What if I’m afraid of needles?

What if I’m afraid of needles?

Methods of coping with needle phobia can vary from person to person, with treatments including cognitive behavioural therapy, and clinical hypnotherapy.

There are also self-help methods. Anxiety UK has a range of free support tools you can access to help you manage and support someone with needle or injection phobia and is worried about getting the vaccine.

It can often be helpful to tell the first staff member you meet when attending your appointment that you are afraid of needles and advise what might help you – for example – lying down, having someone with you, being vaccinated away from people. Staff will do what they can to help.

I’m worried about blood clots

I’m worried about blood clots

There have been reports in some countries of a few people having blood clots after the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This has been reviewed and it is clear the benefits of having the vaccine far outweigh any risks, which are extremely rare. Those under age 30 won’t get the Oxford/AstraZeneca to be on the safe side. They will be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna.

Can I still take my medication and get the vaccine?

Can I still take my medication and get the vaccine?

The vaccine should not have any interactions with other medications. However, it’s always best to discuss your concerns with your GP when the vaccine becomes available to you.

Do I need to be registered with a GP?

Do I need to be registered with a GP?

You do not need to be registered with a GP to receive a vaccination. If you are in a group that has been asked to get the vaccine you can book it on the national booking website.

We encourage you to register with a GP if you are considering it as there are many benefits. If you lack proof of ID, address or immigration status you will not be turned away from a GP or a vaccination appointment. Find out more on the Doctors of the World website.

I’m too busy

I’m too busy

When your time comes to book the COVID-19 vaccine you can book online through the National Booking Service (NBS) or by phoning 119 for the large vaccination centre at the Stithians Showground or the Royal Showground, Wadebridge, which are open until 8pm every evening.

Your local vaccination centre will offer weekend appointments, or you can book through the NBS for a vaccination at a community pharmacy at Roche, Truro and Redruth. GPs are also running vaccinations. People are reminded not to contact the NHS, they will contact you when it is your turn for your first and second doses.

We also have drop-in and walk-in clinics across Cornwall, visit our COVID-19 vaccine page for dates and times.

I can’t use public transport and I don’t have a car to get to an appointment

I can’t use public transport and I don’t have a car to get to an appointment

Volunteer Cornwall are providing transport door to door to help people access a vaccination appointment. Call them on 01872 265300 or visit their website.

Can I take children to the appointment?

Can I take children to the appointment?

You can take children with you to a vaccine appointment if you don’t have childcare. You will need to let people know when you arrive that you have your children with you. As the centres try to keep the number of people to a minimum, they might need to fill out a form when you arrive, and you may have to wait a little when you arrive for a quieter gap.

Information correct as of June 2021.

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