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A guide to the COVID-19 spring programme

The following information explains the autumn vaccination programme and how you can help protect yourself or visit

We hope that people with concerns about the COVID-19 spring programme, carers and families, find this guide useful. Download a copy of A guide to the COVID-19 spring programme or print this page to give to someone you know.

This leaflet is available as a standard version, large print, in braille, audio, easy read, BSL and translated into a number of community languages.

The leaflet can be ordered or downloaded from:, by calling: 0300 123 1002 or by textphone: 0300 123 1003 (lines are open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday).

For more information about staying safe, healthy and warm during the winter months, read our guides on preparing for severe wintry conditions, managing minor winter ailments and the flu vaccination.

Who is being offered a spring vaccination?

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions. For these reasons, people aged 75 years and over, those in care homes, and those aged six months and over with a weakened immune system are being offered a spring dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Timing of the spring vaccination

You should be offered an appointment between April and June, with those at highest risk being called in first. You will be invited to have your booster around 6 months after your last dose, but you can have it as soon as 3 months. If you are turning 75 years of age between April and June, you do not have to wait until your birthday, you can attend when you are called for vaccination.

Which vaccine will you be offered?

You will be given a booster dose of a vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna and approved in the UK. These vaccines have been updated since the original vaccines and target a different COVID-19 variant. These  updated vaccines boost protection well, and give slightly higher levels of antibody against the more recent  strains of COVID-19 (Omicron).

As we cannot predict which variants of COVID-19 will be circulating this spring and summer, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have concluded that the vaccine used in the later weeks of the autumn 2023 programme should be used.

Please accept the vaccination that is offered to you as soon as you are able to – it is important to have your vaccine to build up your protection against severe illness before the winter.

Who cannot take up the offer of an autumn vaccine

There are very few people who should not have this vaccine. If you have had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine you should discuss this with your doctor.

Side effects

Common side effects: As with your previous dose, the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines, including the updated vaccines being used this spring 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 (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help you feel better. Side effects following vaccination normally last less than a week.

If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111 or for textphone use 18001 111. You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme.

Serious side effects: Cases of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis or pericarditis) have been reported very rarely after both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

These cases have been seen mostly in younger men and within several days of vaccination. Most of the people affected have felt better and recovered quickly following rest and simple treatments. You should seek medical advice urgently if, after vaccination, you experience:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart.

If you had a serious side effect after a previous dose you may be advised to avoid or delay further vaccination.

You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist. Please see the back page of the leaflet on how to report side effects.

What should you do if you are not well on the day of your appointment?

If you are unwell, wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine. You should not attend an appointment if you have a fever or think you might be infectious to others.

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

The COVID-19 vaccine will reduce the chance of you becoming severely unwell from COVID-19 this spring and summer.

It may take a few days for your body to build up some extra protection from the dose. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but any infection should be less severe.

If you have not had all your vaccinations

If you have not yet had either of your first two doses of the vaccine (or a third dose for those with a weakened immune system) you should have a dose during the seasonal campaign. If you are eligible and you have missed an earlier booster, you should have a dose this spring to catch up. Most people do not need extra doses to make up for those you have missed. If you have a severely weakened immune system your doctor may advise an extra dose three months after you have the spring vaccine.

Will I have to wait after my vaccine?

If you have a history of allergies, or if you had a reaction immediately after a previous dose, you may be advised to stay for 15 minutes after the vaccine. Please make sure you tell the vaccinator.

Further information

You can read the COVID-19 guides below for more information

Read the product information leaflets for the UK recipients of the Pfizer, Moderna or Sanofi vaccines for more details on your vaccine, including possible side effects.

You can also report suspected side effects on the Yellow Card website or by calling 0800 731 6789 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) or by downloading the Yellow Card app.

A guide to the spring 2024 COVID-19 vaccination programme cover

Please exercise your common sense when considering this guide and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in it. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that any factual information is accurate and complete, most of the information in this guide is based on our views and opinions (and sometimes the views and opinions of the people or organisations we work with). As a result, we cannot make any promises about the accuracy or the completeness of the information and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on it.