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, spring and autumn boosters are recommended for some people.

Getting a booster dose during pregnancy

Who can get a spring booster

You should get a spring booster dose if you are:

  • age 70 or older
  • age 5 or older with a weak immune system
  • living in a nursing home or residential care facility for older adults

Wait 6 months since getting your last COVID-19 vaccine or infection. But you can get your spring booster 3 months after your last COVID-19 vaccine or infection if you want to get your spring booster before the end of May.

If you get your booster before the end of May, you should have protection from serious COVID-19 illness until your autumn booster.

If you had a booster since 1 March 2023, you have had your spring booster.

Who can get an autumn booster

A booster dose will be offered in autumn if you are:

Why am I not on this list?

Seasonal boosters are recommended for people at higher risk from serious COVID-19 illness. Those at higher risk need to get a booster dose more often to maintain their protection against serious COVID-19 illness.

At least one booster dose is recommended for people age 18 and over. If you would like a booster and are not in the groups recommended for a spring or autumn booster, you can get an autumn booster.

Talk to your GP, pharmacist or vaccination centre if you want an autumn booster.

How to get a booster dose

If you're due a booster, you can:

Which vaccine you will be offered

What to bring to your appointment

Bring photo ID that shows your date of birth.

First booster dose

Some people have not had their first booster dose.

At least one booster is:

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

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.

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.

Which vaccine you will be offered

You will be offered a bivalent Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine as a booster dose. These are mRNA vaccines.

These adapted vaccines work in the same way as the original Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. But they are expected to give even more protection against COVID-19 variants.

If you are 30 or older, you will be offered either the bivalent Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine you will be offered will depend on supply.

If you are 29 or younger, you will be offered the bivalent Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as your booster dose.

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

Read more about COVID-19 vaccine types

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 bivalent mRNA booster 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 cannot have the adapted vaccines.

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 in the clinic 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 if you cannot book an appointment online.

Page last reviewed: 4 April 2023