Children at higher risk from Covid and those within months of turning 18 will be offered the Pfizer vaccine in the UK.
More than 88% of the adult population have now had a first dose and about two-thirds both doses.
Which children will be vaccinated?
The case for vaccinating children has been studied by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
It recommends vaccinating children aged 12-15 if they are at higher risk due to:
- Severe neurodisability (which could include conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism or epilepsy)
- Down’s syndrome
- A severely weakened immune system, including some children with cancer
- Profound and multiple learning difficulties
Those at higher risk who are already aged 16 or 17 can be vaccinated under existing rules.
The JCVI has also recommended immunising 12-17-year-olds who live with people who have a suppressed immune system, as a form of indirect protection.
Young people who are within three months of turning 18 will also be offered the jab.
Around 370,000 children will be eligible, but the vast majority of children in the UK, who are considered low risk, will not be offered the vaccine for now.
Who is being offered the vaccine now?
All over-18s in the UK can get a vaccine.
How do I get my second jab?
In England, the gap between first and second jabs has been reduced to eight weeks for those under 40.
The NHS will contact patients directly in England, but you can also rearrange your appointment yourself online, or by calling 119.
A number of walk-in clinics offer second doses without appointment. Again, check local health providers and social media groups.
In Scotland anyone whose second appointment is more than eight weeks after their first can rebook it via the NHS Inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013.
In Northern Ireland, the interval between doses has been reduced from 10 to six weeks.
In Wales, the government says vaccination clinics “are accelerating second doses”, and people will be contacted by their local health boards in due course.
What’s the latest on booster jabs?
Millions of people most vulnerable to Covid-19 may be offered a third vaccination from September.
The JCVI has issued new guidance on who should get booster jabs, if data suggests they are needed.
It says third jabs should be offered to prolong the benefits of the first and second injections.
The JCVI will publish final plans before September, taking into account:
- the latest Covid situation
- data from re-vaccination trials
- how well the vaccines are working over time
- emerging variants
Who might get a third jab first?
The JCVI says a booster vaccine and the annual flu jab should be offered as soon as possible from September to:
- immuno-suppressed adults aged 16 and over
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 70 or over
- adults aged 16 and over considered clinically extremely vulnerable
- frontline health and social care workers
The JCVI says the following groups should be offered a third booster with “equal emphasis” on giving the flu vaccine as well:
- all adults aged 50 and over
- all adults aged 16-49 years in an influenza or Covid-19 “at-risk group”
- adult household contacts of immuno-suppressed individuals
Most younger adults will receive their second Covid-19 vaccine dose in late summer, so the benefits of booster vaccination in this group will be considered by the JCVI at a later date.
Boosters should ensure protection built up in the population does not decline through the winter months – and that immunity is maximised to provide additional resilience against variants.
Is Covid vaccination compulsory?
For most people, getting vaccinated is not mandatory, although the government is urging everyone who can have the vaccine to get it.
Vaccinations will be compulsory for staff at care homes in England, and may be extended to include more NHS staff.
Adults who were fully vaccinated in the UK, and under-18s, no longer have to self-isolate after visiting amber-list countries, with the exception of France, A number of international countries are only allowing fully-vaccinated travellers to enter.
In addition, clubbers and people attending some other venues in England will have to be fully vaccinated by the end of September.
What vaccine will I get?
The UK is using vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Moderna.
People under 40 are being offered Pfizer or Moderna rather than Oxford-AstraZeneca because of concerns about a possible connection with extremely rare cases of blood clots.
But the UK’s medicines regulator says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for most people.
A single-dose Covid vaccine made by Janssen has also been approved for use in the UK by the medicines regulator. Twenty million doses are due to arrive later this year.
Do vaccines work against the Delta variant?
The Delta variant is believed to be around 60% more infectious than the previous dominant variant in the UK, the Alpha. It’s also thought to be twice as likely to result in hospital admissions.
However, analysis by Public Health England (PHE) shows that two doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine are highly effective at preventing hospital admissions for infected patients.
Vaccine developers are able to update their jabs to target new variants. Oxford researchers have begun to test a new version of the AZ vaccine (targeting the Beta variant first detected in South Africa) in volunteers. Results are expected later this year.
Can you mix and match different vaccines?
If you have already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you should also have a second dose. Only those who suffered a rare blood clot should not, the regulator says.
How many vaccine doses are there?
The UK has ordered eight vaccines and expects to receive 517 million doses.
These include another 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine (on top of the original order of 40 million) to be used as part of a booster programme in the autumn.
Vaccines supplied by CureVac will be designed to protect against the most concerning new variants.
Can pregnant women get the vaccine?
The UK’s vaccine committee says pregnant women should be offered a jab because in late pregnancy, some women are at risk of complications from Covid-19.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferable, they say, because data relating to 90,000 pregnant women has not raised any safety concerns.
Data on how the AZ vaccine works in pregnant women may become available in the near future.
What about people with allergies?
A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction – known as anaphylaxis – after the Pfizer vaccine.
You should discuss any serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.
Most people will not be affected in any way, although side-effects with all vaccines are possible.
The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.
They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.
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