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    COVID-19
    1234 · 20 min read

    Can I get a COVID booster?

    Wondering if you can get, or if you need, a COVID booster? This UK Meds article has got you covered. In this article, you can find out if boosters are available, who can get them, and what side effects to watch out for. We'll also talk about COVID testing, wearing masks, and more.

    COVID booster vaccine being held by hands with rubber gloves on them

    Is there a COVID booster available during autumn/winter 2023?

    Yes, a COVID booster is available during autumn/winter 2023. The NHS has kicked off a winter vaccinations campaign, starting with residents of care homes and housebound individuals. This proactive approach began in September 2023 and is in response to the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant, prioritising those at the highest risk. The NHS encourages everyone eligible to get both COVID and flu vaccinations as soon as possible, considering the risk of the new COVID-19 variant and the winter. 

    Is a COVID booster completely effective at preventing COVID-19?

    No vaccine, including the COVID booster, is completely effective. While a COVID-19 booster significantly reduces the likelihood of severe illness from COVID-19, it's essential to understand that no medical intervention provides absolute immunity. The vaccine works by building up extra protection in your body, which may take a few days. According to gov.uk, it's possible for some individuals to still contract COVID-19 even after vaccination. However, the severity of the infection is expected to be significantly reduced.

    Who is eligible for an autumn COVID booster jab in 2023?

    According to the Department of Health and Social Care Media Centre, in autumn 2023, the following groups are eligible for a COVID booster jab:

    • Residents in care homes for older adults

    • All adults aged 65 years and over

    • People aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group

    • Frontline health and social care workers

    • People aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of individuals with immunosuppression

    • People aged 16 to 64 years who are carers

    When is the autumn 2023 programme for the COVID booster in the UK?

    According to government advice, the autumn 2023 programme for the COVID booster in the UK runs from September to December. Appointments will be offered during this period, prioritising those at the highest risk. It's recommended to receive the booster at least three months after your last dose of the vaccine. If you are also eligible for a flu vaccine, you may have the opportunity to receive both at the same time. However, if this isn't possible, it's advised to go ahead with the available vaccine and catch up with the other one later.

    Which versions of the COVID vaccine are being offered in autumn 2023?

    In autumn 2023, you will be offered a COVID booster vaccine made by Pfizer, Sanofi, or Moderna. These vaccines, according to government advice, are updated versions of those used in previous campaigns, designed to provide enhanced protection. Notably, they have been updated to produce slightly higher levels of antibodies against some strains of the Omicron variant.

    What potential side effects should you be aware of?

    When it comes to potential side effects of the COVID booster, it's important to be aware of both common and more serious reactions. According to government advice, these are the more common and more serious side effects of the COVID booster jab:

    Common Side Effects

    • Painful, heavy feeling, and tenderness in the arm where the injection was given. This usually peaks around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine.

    • Feeling tired.

    • Headache.

    • General aches or mild flu-like symptoms.

    Serious Side Effects

    • Chest pain.

    • Shortness of breath.

    • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart.

    If you have had serious side effects after a previous dose, it's advisable to discuss with your doctor or specialist. They can provide guidance on whether further vaccination is recommended for you.

    Is a COVID booster optional?

    In the UK, while a COVID booster is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended, particularly for eligible groups. The booster provides an additional layer of protection against COVID-19, reducing the severity of illness and contributing to community immunity. While the decision is personal, considering the potential benefits for personal health and the broader community is advisable. If you have any specific concerns, consulting with a healthcare provider for personalised advice is recommended.

    How can you test yourself for COVID?

    In the UK, you can test yourself for COVID through various methods. The most popular home testing method is the lateral flow test. Lateral flow tests offer a convenient and rapid way to test yourself for COVID-19 in the UK. These tests, available for at-home use, provide results within approximately 30 minutes. You can order lateral flow tests online from UK Meds which will be delivered quickly, directly to your door. It's important to carefully follow the instructions provided with the test kit to ensure accurate results.

    Can you test yourself for COVID immunity?

    Yes, you can test yourself for COVID-19 immunity using yorktest's COVID-19 Antibody Test, which is designed for convenient at-home use in the UK. This finger-prick blood test provides a hospital-standard COVID-19 antibody test result, offering insights into your immune response following exposure to the virus. It's recommended to collect your blood sample more than 10 days after the onset of symptoms if you've experienced coronavirus symptoms. You can purchase yorktest’s COVID-19 Antibody Test only from UK Meds.

    Can you still wear a face mask?

    If you are wondering whether or not to wear a face mask, you can refer to our guide on when to consider using a mask for further advice. While vaccination and boosters provide significant protection against severe illness, wearing a mask remains a valuable precautionary measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Following government guidelines and continuing to practice preventive measures, including wearing masks, contributes to managing and preventing the impact of the virus. If you decide you want to wear a face mask, it is recommended that you wear an FFP3 mask. These can be purchased online from UK Meds.

    Sources

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    Blog author

    Scott Weaver

    Scott is an experienced and professional content writer who works exclusively for UK Meds.

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