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Booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

The protection from previous doses or a COVID-19 infection may weaken over time. Booster doses help boost your antibodies and give you good protection from becoming seriously ill or needing to go to hospital if you get COVID-19.

A first booster is recommended for all adults age 18 years and older.

After this, seasonal boosters are recommended for some people at higher risk of COVID-19 illness.

Spring booster dose

Spring booster doses will be offered from 22 April.

You will be offered a spring booster dose if you are:

  • age 80 or older
  • age 5 or older with a weak immune system
  • living in a long-term care facility

If you are age 70 to 79, you can request a vaccine. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about your reasons for wanting a booster.

Who can get a booster dose now

You may be due a booster now if you are pregnant or if you have not had a first booster yet.

If you are pregnant

Read about booster doses needed during pregnancy.

First booster

You may have had your first round of COVID-19 vaccination and not had a booster yet.

A first booster is:

  • recommended for people age 18 and older
  • available to people age 12 and older

How long to wait

Wait 4 months after your last COVID-19 vaccine or COVID-19 infection.

For some people who need protection sooner, you can get your first booster 3 months after your last COVID-19 vaccine or infection.

How to get a booster

If you're age 12 or older, you can:

People under 16

People under 16 must attend their booster appointment with a parent or guardian. A parent or guardian will need to give consent for their child’s vaccination in person.

Which vaccine you will be offered

You will be offered an adapted Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as a booster dose. This is an mRNA vaccine.

Adapted vaccines work in the same way as the original Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. But they are expected to give even more protection against COVID-19 variants, including Omicron variants.

You may get a non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, if an mRNA vaccine is not suitable, or you choose not to have an mRNA vaccine.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccine types.

COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine

You can get your COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine at the same time.

You may experience an increase in side effects after getting both vaccines together. These will be mild and should not last long.

Side effects

Side effects may include:

  • pain in your arm (or arms) where you had the vaccines
  • fatigue (feeling tired)
  • headache
  • muscle aches and pain

If you feel uncomfortable, take paracetamol or ibuprofen following the instructions on the box or leaflet.

Booster dose safety

Many countries have given multiple doses of COVID-19 vaccines. There have not been any unexpected safety concerns so far. The safety of the vaccines continues to be monitored by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The side effects of the adapted Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are similar to the original vaccines. The most regularly reported side effects are headache, fever, and tiredness.

Myocarditis and pericarditis are inflammatory heart conditions and are very rare risks of mRNA vaccines. These rare side effects are more common in men under the age of 30 years after their second primary vaccine dose. The risk of these side effects appears to be lower after the first booster.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccine side effects

If you have had anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) to trometamol, you should not get an adapted mRNA vaccine.

If you have any concerns about getting a booster, talk to your GP, nurse, pharmacist or vaccinator.

After your COVID-19 booster dose

You need to wait for 15 minutes after the vaccine. This is to make sure that you feel well before you leave.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in the past, you'll need to wait 30 minutes.

Get medical care immediately if you:

  • have difficulty breathing
  • feel dizzy
  • have a fast heartbeat or a skin rash

These could be a sign of an allergic reaction. But severe allergic reactions are rare.

If you were vaccinated in a different country

If you were vaccinated abroad, you can get your booster here if you are due one.

You will need your vaccination details including vaccine type, date given and expiry date.

If you do not have a PPS number

If you do not have a PPS number, you can still get vaccinated. You will need to bring photo ID and proof of address.

Your proof of address can be a:

  • household bill in your name
  • bank or financial institution statement
  • letter from a public service department or agency
  • rental agreement
  • letter from the owner of the property to confirm you live there - this can be your parent
  • bill or letter from a hotel or Airbnb

Phone HSELive on 1800 700 700 to find out where you can get your vaccine.

Page last reviewed: 5 April 2024