Spring Vaccine Explained: Who Can Get A Second Booster And How?

This is how you can book your fourth (or fifth) Covid vaccine.
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The spring coronavirus vaccine roll-out has launched. The second booster will be the fourth jab received for some of those eligible and a fifth injection for vulnerable people who’ve already had an extra jab.

The booster jabs will either be Pfizer or Moderna. If you think you or your family members may be eligible, here’s the information you need.

Who is eligible in the spring vaccine programme?

In the UK, people aged 75 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, and those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system will be offered a spring booster.

This appointment will be offered around six months after your last dose of vaccine for those eligible (and no sooner than three months since your last jab).

How will people be informed about their appointment?

The spring vaccine programme launched on March 21 and in the coming weeks, the NHS will contact those who are eligible. You will then be able to book online or call 119 to make an appointment to have your second booster.

Why is there a spring vaccine programme?

An additional vaccine will help protect vulnerable people against serious illness and potential hospitalisation.

“Covid-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. Protection from the vaccine may be lower and may decline more quickly in these people,” the NHS says.

“This spring booster is being offered as a precaution to those at extremely high risk, most of whom received their first booster around six months ago. If the number of infections increases over the summer, this booster should help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital with Covid-19.”

Will it be effective?

The effectiveness of the fourth jabs have been examined largely from Israel. It’s the first country to offer the fourth vaccines to over 60s, people with weakened immune systems and healthcare workers.

A study from Israel’s Ministry of Health and several Israeli universities examined nearly one million vaccinated people over the age of 60. It suggested a fourth dose of the vaccine offered up to twice the protection against getting infected and four times the protection against serious illness compared to people who have had three doses.

We previously spoke to Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, who said that a fourth booster campaign might not be as wide-spread as previous ones.

“The reason why boosters won’t be needed widely is that most people whether or not vaccinated have already also had a natural infection (current estimates are a bit uncertain but three out of four people seems to be a reasonable estimate) and a past infection provides better protection than vaccine depending on how long ago it was,” he said.

“But there are still quite a few older people and more medically vulnerable people who have not yet had an infection and they remain at risk of severe disease when vaccine immunity wanes, though not as much as if they had not been vaccinated.”

Will the rest of the population get a second booster?

So far, there are no booster announcements for the rest of the population.

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid told ITV’s Peston programme that he will wait for the JCVI’s advice before a second booster or fourth dose will be offered to more people. It’s likely this will happen in the autumn or towards the end of the year. Evidence on the effectiveness of this is still emerging.

Is the spring vaccine the same formula as previous jabs?

Yes, the spring booster will be another dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but researchers are working on a jab that tackles variants specifically.

Pfizer is working on creating a coronavirus vaccine that would protect people against all of the known variants, including Omicron, and it would last for at least a year. CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla likened this to an annual flu shot.

“We need to understand that Covid will not go away in the years to come,” he told CBS News’ Face the Nation. “We will have to live, to learn how to live with it, and we can, as we are living with many ― so many other viruses.”

Creating an annual vaccine, he added, would be like going back to the way we used to live. So, when can we expect these mega boosters for all? Well, don’t hold your breath, they’re still in development.

Experts are still learning about Covid-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but guidance could change as scientists discover more about the virus. To keep up to date with health advice and cases in your area, visit gov.uk/coronavirus and nhs.uk.