Millions of people across the UK are being offered a booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to top up their protection from Covid ahead of winter. The worry is that the twin threat of the flu and coronavirus will overwhelm the NHS. The decision to administer a booster shot was not taken lightly.
Health bodies arrived at the decision after analysing the data from clinical trials, making sure there were no safety concerns that made the decision disproportionate to the threat of Covid.
Although regulatory bodies have concluded getting a booster shot tops up protection without causing harm to recipients, side effects have been reported.
Some of the most interesting insights have come out of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) analysis, which served as a precondition to rolling the Pfizer booster shot out in the US.
The FDA analysed safety and immune response data from a subset of participants from the original clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
READ MORE: How many people die from flu each year? Covid stats compared
In addition, consideration was given to real-world data on the vaccine’s efficacy over a sustained period of time provided by both US and international sources, including the CDC, the UK and Israel.
Safety was evaluated in 306 participants 18 through 55 years of age and 12 participants 65 years of age and older who were followed for an average of over two months.
“Of note, swollen lymph nodes in the underarm were observed more frequently following the booster dose than after the primary two-dose series,” the FDA reported.
The most commonly reported side effects by the clinical trial participants who received the booster dose of the vaccine were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain and chills.
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Booster shot – everything you need to know
Booster vaccine doses are available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a second dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.
- People aged 50 and over
- People who live and work in care homes
- Frontline health and social care workers
- People aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- People aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
- People aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
- People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.
You’ll be offered a booster dose at least six months after you had your second dose.
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have a booster dose. It’s important not to contact the NHS for one before then.
Most people will be invited to book an appointment at a larger vaccination centre, pharmacy, or local NHS service such as a GP surgery.
Frontline health or social care workers can book a booster dose appointment online. You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS.
People who work for an NHS trust or a care home will usually get their booster dose through their employer.
You can also book your booster dose online if you have been contacted by the NHS and you are either:
- Aged 50 and over
- Aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19.
Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine.
This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your first and second doses.
Some people may be offered a booster dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Most people who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine.