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Stay at home – level 5 restrictions are in place nationwide. Get the latest advice about COVID-19

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease which can cause serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.

The COVID-19 vaccine will offer you protection from COVID-19. If you do catch COVID-19 after vaccination, you should be protected from the serious illness the virus can sometimes cause.

The vaccine is not mandatory. But we strongly recommend that you get the vaccine as soon as it is available to you.

People who are most at risk from COVID-19 will get the vaccine first.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free. It will not be available privately.

Our aim in offering the vaccine to the population is to protect people and reduce the illness and deaths caused by this virus.

If you have any common symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate (stay in your room) and phone a GP to arrange a COVID-19 test.

First groups to get the COVID-19 vaccine

The first groups to get the COVID-19 vaccine are:

  • people aged 65 years and older who live in long-term care facilities – they have a greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19
  • frontline healthcare workers – they have a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19

If you live in a long-term care facility, you will be offered the vaccine there. If you are a healthcare worker, you will be offered the vaccine where you work or in a vaccination clinic.

The vaccine will be offered to more priority groups as soon as possible.

You do not need to contact us to get the COVID-19 vaccine. We will let you know when you can register to get the vaccine through an invitation from your healthcare team, news or public advertising.

Read more about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ireland

Do not get the vaccine if you:

  • have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, including polyethylene glycol – the vaccinator will ask you about any allergies you may have
  • have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine
  • currently have COVID-19 – wait until it has been 4 weeks since you first noticed symptoms or you first tested positive
  • have a fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) – wait until you feel better

If you have had an immediate allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy, you should talk to your doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Your COVID-19 vaccine appointment

You will get the vaccine as an injection in your upper arm. It will only take a few minutes.

You will need 2 doses.

Your second dose will be at least:

  • 21 to 28 days after your first dose if you get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
  • 28 days (4 full weeks) after your first dose if you get the Moderna vaccine

The person who gives you your vaccine is called a "vaccinator". They are a trained healthcare professional like a nurse, doctor or pharmacist.

Your vaccinator will answer any questions you may have. They will also give you an aftercare advice leaflet and a vaccine record card. Your record will show the name and batch number of the vaccine you get.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

There's no evidence the vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy.

If you have already had COVID-19

If you have already had COVID-19, you still need to get the vaccine. This is because you could become infected with the virus again.

There's a small chance you might still get COVID-19 even if you have the vaccine. But you'll be protected from the serious illness the virus can sometimes cause.

You will need to give your consent by signing a form before we give you the vaccine.

The person giving you the vaccine will be happy to answer any questions you have at your appointment.

Personal information

Your personal information will be processed in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It will only be processed for the specific purpose of managing your vaccination.

Read more about how the HSE works in line with GDPR.

This content was fact checked by vaccine experts working in Ireland

Related content

Safety of the COVID-19 vaccine

Immunity after the COVID-19 vaccine

Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine

Other websites

Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) vaccine – European Medicines Agency

COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna – European Medicines Agency

COVID-19 vaccination strategy and implementation plan –

Last updated: 20 January 2021 at 11.40am